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1997 ISSUE

Tomorrow’s kitchen the heart of innovation

The kitchen — not the media room — will be the room in our homes most likely to change in the next century as it integrates the most new technology.

Rebecca P. Lovingood, retired professor of Apparel, Housing and Resource Management at Virginia Tech, researches consumer use of household appliances, costs and energy use, and the amount of time spent and family roles in performing house work. She sees several trends in household appliance innovation:

Universal design — Appliances and kitchen configurations will be suited to "all ages and all stages," so that cooking a meal can be accomplished with equal ease by a child, a grandparent, or a person with a disability.

Changes:

— Household equipment designed for easy use by those with visual, hearing, or mobility impairment.

— Appliances activated by voice command or remote control.

— More “fail-safe” devices, such as automatic shut-offs.

Individual design — While most homes are now equipped with standard "full size" kitchen appliances, Lovingood says this will likely change in the future. For retirement ommunities with communal dining, apartments might have only a toaster oven, a coffee maker, and a small microwave. "A full-sized range might be available in a common area," says Lovingood.

Young people who frequently eat out might also opt for the scaled-down kitchen. "Why heat an entire oven for a toasted cheese sandwich?"

Integrated design - Expect a closer relationship between cabinet and kitchen appliance manufacturers. Kitchens will likely be designed as integrated units, with appliances, storage, and food preparation areas seamlessly connected and easy to clean. "We will buy total kitchens, not just individual appliances and cabinets."

– Sandy Broughton
College of Human Resources and Education