An Incubator Kitchen

On Designing Forage Kitchen

  Lately Ive been seeing design everywhere. From the lampposts to the sewer grates. Look and you'll see it. Everything has craftsmanship. Every peg that is round instead of square, every bench whose arms curve at just the right angle for your arms, every knife handle with just the right weight. Someone sat in a room and designed these.

This of course is not even to mention the obvious work done on the old buildings in the city. Its really amazing if you spend some time looking at them, the level of craftsmanship that goes into every detail. Randomly at the same time I heard about a podcast called 99% invisible, by a guy named Roman Mars, who explores just these kinds of issues. It's amazing, you should definitely listen to it.

I've been on this kick because we've entered into the design stage of Forage Kitchen. Its an interesting challenge, taking what is usually a back of house space (the commercial kitchen), and bringing it front of house (forward facing for the public). Not a lot of thought goes into the physical experience of being in a restaurant kitchen. Fluorescent lights, bad acoustics, hot environment, these are all things that are accepted as fact in most kitchens. They're designed as functional spaces. It's only when the dining room comes into play that designers start to think about the experience of being in a space (and honestly at a lot of restaurants I've gone to I don't think they pay much attention there either).

I want to create a space that feels intimate, but at the same time has functionality. A space that you actually want to spend time in. A space that feels like the home kitchen that people gravitate to. A hearth. A warm space. What is that space? What's the lighting like? How is the equipment arranged? I like timeless design. Large wood beams (I'm thinking about driving to VT to take down my moms falling down barn to use the wood), places that feel like they'll be around forever. Most modern design just makes me uncomfortable. It doesn't seem like it was created with the idea that actual people would inhabit the space

A large part of the users of Forage Kitchen will be non-professionals. People interested in cooking, but who havn't spent time in a commercial kitchen. The truth of the matter is that commercial kitchens are intimidating. To deal with this problem we're going to have separate kitchens for different users, but I also want to create a space where there is osmosis through these spaces. Common spaces where people can interact.

I love the idea of the Makers (non-professional members), staging (helping out) with the business users. Helping them prep, then maybe hiring them for a catering gig. How fun would that be for people, to help make the food being served at their event. Imagine a bride that spent some time in the kitchen making her wedding dinner, it would connect her so much more closely to the food that was being served.

Once we have a couple sketches done, I want to have a roundtable, where I get people who are going to use the space together to let us know what they think. Ive been thinking about the idea of open source design lately. A design that is born through many different opinions coming together. I love that idea. Open source taken into the physical world, to create something that the people involved can actually stand in. Ideas for the space? Want to be part of the discussion? Let me know. Iso