They say the future is written in the stars, but we politely have to disagree: The future is right under our noses. Self-driving cars, virtual assistants, phones that recognize you by your fingerprint — the Jetsons wish they’d had it this good. But looking ahead, it’s hard to imagine just how far we’ll go. Can you even imagine what our lives will look like in 2050?
That’s exactly the challenge that Caesarstone — the leading developer and manufacturer of premium quartz surfaces — decided to undertake to celebrate its 30th anniversary. “Its important for Caesarstone to not rest on our laurels,” explains Erika Egede-Nissen, Caesarstone’s director of brand marketing. “We want to keep pushing the envelope and challenging ourselves. We're always looking to come up with innovative ways to envision quartz.”
They tasked a group of design students at the Pratt Institute in New York to show the brand where the next 30 years would take it. Working under the direction of architect and visiting assistant professor at Pratt Marc Thorpe, the students used everything from projected population dynamics to social interaction to inform their design. The result was a self-sustaining, high-functionality cooking area and gathering space that operates using aquaponics, hydroponics, indoor farming, water filtration, composting, 3D printing, and food storage. They even looked back to the origins of cooking and incorporated those elements into their space-age kitchen.
Our modern-day kitchens are typically laid out in a triangle, with the sink, stove, and refrigerator. The class turned that concept on its head, constructing a circular design that included every element, from prep area, to pantry, to induction cooktop, to sink in one closed loop unit. The centerpiece of the Future Kitchen is an open flame, meant to invoke the classic concept of the hearth as a gathering space.
“The hearth goes back to the caveman days and cooking over the fire, allowing for guests to be interacting,” says Egede-Nissen. “It’s a little like a fondue or shabu shabu style of cooking where you play with your food and have some fun in the kitchen.”
The students chose to use Caesarstone as both a functional aspect as well as decorative addition. “You can see the various offerings of materials and colors as a highlight,” explains Jared Delcourt, a Graduate student at Pratt. “The beauty of the quartz is the diversity of the options and how they can work together in a design.”
Using a palette of three popular Caesarstone colors — Sleek Concrete, Raven, and Statuario Nuvo — the students applied the quartz in ways that served both the temperature and durability requirements of a kitchen as well as showcase them in eye-catching, creative ways. The hearth itself features layers of each color to accent that social epicenter of the kitchen. This tactic is representative of a current trend of combining multiple Caesarstone colors on counters throughout a kitchen space. “We wanted to layer the quartz and show the beauty and the diversity of Caesarstone’s options and show how they work together,” says Jared.
Since, as Delcourt says, the kitchen is the heart of the home, the students also added a retractable table to the design, which can be pulled out for dining and entertaining. This feature allows for the whole family to congregate, whether it’s cooking, cleaning or even doing homework during meal preparation. “The future kitchen is a return to fundamentals of humanity,” adds Thorpe. It’s about the reclaiming of the family unit through the pleasure of cooking.”
The class also thought ahead to what the climate needs of 2050 might look like, integrating environmentally friendly components into their design. The sink water drains to a filter system, and an innovative dishwasher allows plates and silverware to be cleaned via steam atomization. Runoff from the sink water also fuels the hydroponic plant growing system, as well as cooling the soil around the food storage area to keep food fresh without using any energy. Beneath the hearth is a food waste disposal area which makes for easy clean-up and composting, as well as feeding a biogas generator.
For their part, Caesarstone was both surprised and excited by the direction the students took with the design. “I was expecting that the students would challenge the use of the product,” says Egede-Nissen. “What they did instead was challenge us as people and how we engage with the kitchen, with food and with waste and recycling.”
“Even if you’re living in a world of robots,” says Delcourt, “you still want to have a nice meal with your family.” While we may not know exactly what 2050 will bring, one thing is for certain: The future (of cooking) looks bright, indeed.
Check out Caesarstoneus.com to learn more about the difference it can make in your kitchen.