Mark Elmore, general manager of design at Fisher & Paykel, has been designing kitchen appliances for the Fisher & Paykel for over 35 years. He is particularly interested in the physical and architectural changes that have occurred, and in the sociological and psychological ways in which kitchen design has changed over the years.
Kitchen design at the heart of your home
Elmore says the growing importance of the kitchen can be seen by its location in the home. “[It’s] no longer a place for one person at the back of the house. It has moved forward to occupy the centre and the heart of the home,” he says. As well as this literal move, the kitchen has also changed in function. “It’s not just the place where food is prepared, it’s now also the place where food is shared. We also use it as an office, we use it as a meeting place for the family, and we use it to entertain.”
This change has led to more sophisticated kitchen designs that blend seamlessly into the rest of the home. “As kitchens evolve to be more like lounge spaces, the technology is becoming more embedded. Kitchen cabinets are looking more like furniture placed in the centre of the room and we have made sure that our appliances integrate seamlessly and give people design freedom – they can choose whether they want to show or hide their appliances.”
The range of things we do in the kitchen has also changed. Sometimes we just want to heat up some leftovers or make a quick bowl of pasta. Other times we want to create a gastronomic feast. “This range of cooking affects the way in which we must design kitchens and the appliances that go in them,” explains Elmore. Fisher & Paykel’s combination cooktops, for example, allow you the convenience of induction, as well as SmartZone Gas for precision.
What’s also different today is that our palate is more global. We routinely eat food from around the world and want to cook it in an authentic way. We are also trying to eat more healthily. “This has an impact on how we design spaces for different foods to take into account their requirements for storage, handling, preparation and cooking.” Fisher & Paykel has introduced various appliances to respond to these changing demands, keeping up with trends in kitchen design.
How we work in the kitchen is also changing. It’s starting to be a more collaborative effort with people converging to work together to create, or clean up after, a meal. “This means kitchens are not only growing bigger if space allows, but that we have to rethink the concept of the working triangle that’s based on one person working between the hob, fridge and sink. We have started to … create a more modular design with consistent sizing that allows you to place your products with many different combinations. Now it is possible, for example, to have a cool drawer for drinks by the dining table, a dish drawer dishwasher for the crockery by the sink, and one for glasses by the bar. The kitchen design concept is now about distributed appliances, allowing you to configure the kitchen to suit the way you live.”
The pioneering New Zealand spirit is one of the founding cornerstones of Fisher & Paykel. While they started as an importer and distributor of appliances, in the late 1930s they began designing and manufacturing their own range. Since then, the Dunedin-based company has been a leader in kitchen innovations, creating products that are now found in homes in 50 countries.