"Efficient Cooking" is the tenor – Siemens presents its new technologies for the kitchen. Cooking as a process and sensual experience fades into the background with the upcoming digitization of the kitchen. Photo © Thomas Edelmann, Stylepark
Kitchen not cooking
by Thomas Edelmann
Feb 3, 2015

All hell has broken loose in the kitchen: All the components, the furniture, the washbasin, stove and oven, the fridge and the air extractor are now more refined than ever, improved, indeed networked. Each detail of the fittings is now participating in a premium race. And it’s long since stopped being about functions or suitability for everyday use. The focus now is on purported optimization and maximization, and with it new ideas on securing customer loyalty and adding value. It hardly bears asking what meaning this all has. The Living Kitchen 2015 may go down in the annals as a trade fair marking a paradigm shift. The pro-chef has now ceased to be the ideal role model of ambitious hobby cooks. And is only required as a backdrop, as a showmaster, as the amuse-gueule for the amazed trade-fair audience: Yes, you can actually cook and bake with the new kitchen appliances! But the kitchen’s design and the equipment is features are no longer geared to a pro-chef’s basic array of appliances and tools. Anyone objecting that a stove touchdisplay can hardly be used by fingers that are still sticky from kneading dough or chopping vegetables has not realized for whom the new technology is destined.

txt msg from cooker

The efforts concentrate now on the affluent cook-dummy. A person who has no time for let alone interest in cooking, but a vague idea that under different circumstances it might be worth a try, but only with technology that largely does everything for you. And until that happens, assuming it ever does, such people are content to go for swift-heating the deep-frozen pizza – as long as the ambience is perfectly stylish. And that requires new appliances. In Cologne in 2015 it is not so much the kitchen furniture that promises the new. The greatest innovative leaps forward were to be found among the manufacturers of kitchen technology. For example, Bauknecht brought a study from the CES trade fair in Las Vegas along with it to Cologne. It is supposed to illustrate the interactive, networked cooking of tomorrow: at a stove that is a screen for chat news, an induction hob, and a database for recipes (quote: Cut the vegetables in identical pieces and place them in a saucepan.”) The main Bosch-Siemens household appliances brands have advanced quite a bit further than that. They already enable networking. The Bosch and Siemens brands first of all establish the Internet of Things in their premium ovens and dishwashers – in the new 8 and iQ 700 series; and more appliances are to follow. Launched back in 2014, the trans-brand “Home connect” platform along with an App for your tablet and smartphone enables you to monitor and control things remotely, and provides recipes and a direct link to the service for registered users.

So what are the practical benefits? The oven can be activated while you are still on the road and roasts for you while no one is at home so that “the chicken is beautifully crisp at just the right moment”. In the oven, sensors monitor the humidity and know when the cake has baked, and report this by txt msg immediately. Hitherto, all you needed to do was glance in the oven. A thermometer with several measuring points correspondingly ensures the roasting is done with great precision. The dishwasher reports whether you should be buying rinsing aids and salt. A simple control lamp on your dishwasher used to do the trick. Anal retentives can rejoice that they can now check remotely whether the oven is indeed turned off. And while the fridge can’t yet order food itself, you can check while out and about whether you need to buy something or not. And find out if someone sneakily pillaged the fridge. However playful the approach may seem to be, Bosch (and with it its household appliance brands) consider the Internet of Things to be a clear business field. And Bosch is busy, in cooperation with Cisco and ABB, developing a software platform for networking all your home facilities. All of this is advertised with the timeworn promises of saving you time and enabling ubiquitous action (“Do your chores at home wherever you are”) and “ultimate safety standards”. Be that as it may, soon you’ll need to include your fridge and your oven in your regular software update routines.

15 possibilities to heat

Household appliances have definitely taken a giant leap in terms of design quality. The structuring and menu layout of the Bosch “Series 8” is clear and impressive for anyone used to everyday life with a tablet computer. Everyone else will need to get used to it. Robert Sachon, Global Design Director at Bosch, compares the wealth of functions that had to be integrated into the new appliances with the mixing panels in a recording studio. The idea is for users to become familiar with the new opportunities the technology offers as far as possible intuitively. A circular element that at first sight reminds you of an “eye” (a design feature of Loewe TVs), emphasizes key image and text data, to one side of it the touchdisplay provides the relevant selection options. The modular structure and appliances’ coordinated design have been handled well. A glance at the corresponding appliance series from Siemens or V-Zug, Miele or Bauknecht, shows that there is little difference in terms of the ingredients as regards metal handles, colored glass and stainless steel features, even if the result in each case underscores its brand-specific independence.

Miele has announced that it has started outfitting 3,000 apartments in a huge golf resort in Gurgaon in India. In total, it’s supplying the complex with around 12,000 household appliances, the single largest order the Güterloh-based family-owned company has ever taken. Large-scale orders of this kind show why the European scale of things is at times pretty relative. That also goes for the 1.22-meter wide XXL appliance, actually destined for the US market and on show on a test basis in Cologne; perhaps there are sufficient buyers for it here too? Even if the domestic market for steam cookers is considered “good” and that for microwaves as “mean”, as Süddeutsche Zeitung recently stated, Miele (like other manufacturers) is now also fielding a combined steam cooker and microwave. Older hi-fi friends may be reminded of the debate way back when about whether compact units were not more prone to faults than combining rack components. V-Zug integrates the microwave into its steam cooker, which already comes with a convection system. In line with auto industry strategies, this hybrid concept is offered as a food preparation “booster”. The 15-heat-setting microwave and steam boost make Siemens’ iQ 700 into the “fastest oven ever”.

Kitchen for Vegans

Austria’s Vooking opts for extremes of a quite different kind, appliances geared to the growing horde of those who want to dispense with animal products in their kitchens. The preparation zone consists of seven basic elements, active and passive zones. Alongside a grain mill (at first sight it looks like an inbuilt automatic coffee machine) the system boasts a workstation with a kind of kitchen organ that keeps containers for herbs and dry ingredients all close at hand. At the Siematic booth, back at the trade fair for the first time in ages, visitors were able to admire the SieMatic 29 program designed by Berlin’s Büro Kinzo – a modern interpretation of the traditional kitchen buffet. Dauphin Home showcased a similarly compact solution with a kitchen block that aimed less at completeness and more at a customized minimal arrangement.

While Chinese architects Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu, who designed the simulation alleyway home for Das Haus, did not completely dispense with a bathroom, but did fully without a kitchen, for the first time a student-designed kitchen won 1st Prize in the fair’s “Pure Talents Contest”. With his “Cooking Table”, designer Moritz Putzier went in a similar direction. Like the visionaries at Bauknecht, ratatouille is probably the ideal recipe for his standing cooking top with the propane stove set in the middle. As there is only a single hob. A decidedly realistic form of minimalism.

At Villa Zanders in Bergisch Gladbach an interesting overview of the topic of kitchens is on display through early March, and thus even when the fair is long since over. The show entitled “Pot and Lid – Art and the Kitchen” documents exhibits from the worlds of painting, photography, video, and sculpture, and even design. Experimental designs by students at Köln International School of Design are likewise on show. After all, preparing meals is the topic of the projects mentored by Professor Wolfgang Laubersheimer and revolving around “Camp Fire Metamorphoses”, albeit only marginally. The “Fit Cuisine” (Jana Dreyer, Pia-Marie Stute) rolls fitness club and kitchen into one, so you cook and work out at one and the same time. “Gunfire” (Patrick Bischinski) brings the camp fire into your apartment, with loud gas hobs, and food can thus be heated up in a compact sphere. In the exhibition (and likewise in the students’ projects) cooking is also present as a smell (“Smellmory”, Daniel Slowes, Lizbeth Pasqulli) and a sound (“The Audible Kitchen”, Angelia Knyazeva). Yet all of this somehow has the feel of a museum about it, namely a museum section for extinct cultural techniques.

> ALL articles about imm cologne

Pot and Lid – Art and the Kitchen
Kunstmuseum Villa Zanders
till 8th March 2015

Like Formula One: The 15-heat-setting microwave and steam boost make Bosch Series 8 into the “fastest oven ever”. Photo © Thomas Edelmann, Stylepark
Robert Sachon, Global Design Director at Bosch, compares the wealth of functions that had to be integrated into the new appliances with the mixing panels in a recording studio. Photo © Thomas Edelmann, Stylepark
Panasonic presents its new devices such as car manufacturers high-tech engines in their race cars. Photo © Thomas Edelmann, Stylepark
Siematic presents the "SieMatic 29“ program designed by Berlin’s Büro Kinzo – a modern interpretation of the traditional kitchen buffet. Photo © Siematic
Dauphin Home showcased a similarly compact solution with a kitchen block that aimed less at completeness and more at a customized minimal arrangement. Photo © Dauphin Home
Free from digital fancyness: designer Moritz Putzier wins with his "Cooking Table" the 1st prize of the "Pure Talent Contest" at the imm cologne. Photo © Moritz Putzier
"Vooking", the first kitchen for vegetarians and vegans - here with integrated grain mill.
Photo © Michael Liebert
The "ingredients organ" - one of the seven modules of "Vooking". Photo © Michael Liebert
The collection "Neo Salon" by Nolte was designed by Meiré and Meire. Photo © Thomas Edelmann, Stylepark
In the exhibition "pot and Lid - art and the Kitchen" at Villa Zanders Students of the Köln International School of Design show experimental projects about cooking and kitchen. The "Fit Cusine" by Jana Dreyer and Pia Marie merge Gym and kitchen.
Photo © VG Bild-Kunst, Michael Wittassek
Could have been designed by Chuck Norris: "Gunfire" by Patrick Bischinski brings the fire place back into the apartment. Photo © VG Bild-Kunst, Michael Wittassek