THE ISLAND LIFE – NKBA Insiders Explore the Evolution of the Kitchen Island at Design Chicago
CHICAGO — NKBA Insiders Bob Borson and Elle H-Millard were among the featured presenters at this year’s Design Chicago. The two-day event is the Midwest’s largest residential design conference and includes educational events and presentations, showroom open houses, and product debuts.
Held at the Merchandise Mart Oct. 3-4, the conference welcomed more than 2,500 design professionals.
H-Millard and Borson participated in a panel discussion on Oct. 4 entitled, “Island Living,” with German cabinetry manufacturer Poggenpohl, on the evolution of the kitchen island. Joining them on the panel was Joseph Higgins, studio manager for the Poggenpohl Chicago Showroom.
“The kitchen is the most used room in your house — and it gets used by everyone, many times throughout the day,” said Borson. “It’s no wonder that the kitchen is now a multi-purpose space that reflects the wide variety of functions and users who occupy it.”
Throughout the conversation, the trio discussed how materials, technology integration, lighting, and lifestyles are changing the primary role of the kitchen island and its effect on its size and shape.
“Having different experiences and approaches to design made for a dynamic and entertaining panel, giving the audience a buffet of ideas regarding new concepts in island living,” explained H-Millard. “We covered tremendous ground, including the impact of Living in Place and flexibility in the kitchen to new countertop edges and lighting. I must say, it was pure bliss to poke around in the minds of such influential creators and share the energy and inspiration with other like-minded professionals.”
Among the takeaways:
- The island used to be a work zone and has now become an all-in-one entertainment zone, where efficiency is key and having all things within reach is now expected.
- Having all things in one space has made the work area more compact, which yields to having a separate work zone, thus allowing the island to be more of a social zone.
- The island has become a multi-purpose destination: homework station, access point for email or other online activity, and in many cases has replaced a separate table for eating. Therefore, it’s a given that islands need multiple electric hookups for charging mobile devices, and storage to accommodate chargers, tablets, laptops, etc.. But most importantly, the technology must be hidden while still being user-friendly, and that’s where the skills of a savvy designer come in.
- Since islands often have replaced kitchen tables where the family eats, they’re now bigger, and countertops should extend over the cabinet bases below to accommodate comfortable dining.
- Designers should be thinking about space differently, as the footprint may change drastically. A separate work kitchen might be the answer, but space allotment in the planning process will be imperative.
Design Chicago is an annual event that includes open houses; presentations and panel discussions featuring designers and manufacturers on a range of topics from business strategies, design and technology trends to melding the worlds of art, science, technology and design, and a slate of CEU-approved seminars.
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