Creating flexibility within the circular kitchen
Examensarbete för masterexamen
Industrial design engineering (MPDES), MSc
The kitchen is today the natural gathering point within our homes. It is no longer a room where we only cook food and eat but serve numerous other activities such as working, socializing, watching tv-series or writing assignments. With this broad area of use there is a need for flexibility and adaptability. When users change their living situation, for example move in with someone or get children, the kitchen should be able to adapt to the changed needs of the user. If the kitchen is not flexible there is a risk that the user tears down their kitchen and buys a new one, making the life cycle of the existing kitchen cut short and leading to unnecessary climate impact. This study aimed to explore design solutions within kitchen furniture and deliver a conceptual design proposal of a kitchen furniture design that could support a flexible kitchen and be a part of a future kitchen adapted to the circular economy. In order to deliver a conceptual design solution, research were performed on the history of the kitchen, the sustainability issues of the modern kitchen as well as research and predictions on how the kitchen will look like in the future. The study was limited to kitchen furniture within Swedish apartments, thus excluding white-goods and kitchen appliances. The study was performed as an iterative, exploratory design process structured around four main project phases, explore, identify, ideate and evaluate. The explore phase consisted of research on the history of the kitchen, the Swedish kitchen today and predictions of the future. The exploration was performed in literature studies, study visits, interviews, user studies and trend analyses. To identify the sustainability issues and user needs, a requirement list was created based on the insights found in the exploration phase. The requirement list served as a base when ideating, creating ideas and concepts in the ideation phase. The research, requirement list and ideation resulted in a concept idea that was further developed and evaluated in a final conceptual design solution. Insights gathered throughout the study lead to the conceptual design which is an effort to initiate discussions in order to change the direction of the current take-waste production and use model of the kitchen furniture industry. The concept is a modular furniture solution, based on two bio-composite components that can be assembled into a variety of kitchen layouts and furniture products. It addresses the need for flexibility and user adaptability by providing the user with a modular, open furniture system. A proposed circular business model was created for the conceptual design, which was evaluated in a consultation interview with an expert, a peer-review with design students and a comparison against the created requirement list.