Biophilic design room-by-room: the kitchen

in Biophilic Room-by-room

The kitchen is a crucial area in any home and one where practicality counts the most.
But while planning for practicality, one can forget the broader role of kitchens in a home environment and their potential when it comes to bringing people closer to the natural world.

So let’s focus on these aspects while we look into the kitchen from a biophilic design perspective!

A gathering space

Whether it is open or closed on the floor plan, the kitchen is a welcoming and lively space. In the kitchen, family members come together to cook, eat and discuss…it’s a space for sharing.

This should be reflected in the design with wide-enough spaces to prepare food and possibly some sort of seating for those who aren't cooking.
Designing kitchens to be more than food heating stations can also stimulate the joy of cooking. Spending time in the kitchen then becomes a pleasurable daily appointment, that doubles as a time to share thoughts and experiences with the rest of the family.

Contemporary kitchen island with stools.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Sync (opened in a new window/tab) – Photo by Jack Lovel

Functional biophilic features

Biophilic design features shouldn’t be seen as decorative only; they can and should be merged with the functional needs of a space. Even more so in a kitchen, where space is never quite enough and décor risks to just get in the way.

This seemingly limiting perspective is instead a rich opportunity, where every single element that needs to be in the kitchen becomes the occasion to incorporate a biophilic feature.

For example, a glazed backsplash opens the view to the outdoor while being an easy-to-clean surface.
A raw countertop edge adds a rich tactile element and a decorative feature without extra accessories.
And integrated planters create a clutter-free space for greenery while providing fresh and self-grown cooking ingredients.

Contemporary kitchen with a window as backsplash.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: The Palm co (opened in a new window/tab)
Stone kitchen countertop with textured edge.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Werkhaus Küchen (opened in a new window/tab) - Photo by Josefine Unterhauser
Contemporary kitchen island with integrated planter.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: DforDesign – kitchen design for one of my client projects.

Water

Together with bathrooms, kitchens are the so-called wet areas in a home.
In the kitchen, people constantly interact with water for cooking purposes. So why not incorporating water in the design too?
Both literally or with mimicking solutions, water can be an important part of the design!

Kitchen with stone finish with a texture that recalls flowy water.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Obumex (opened in a new window/tab)
Dining table with watercolour water wall mural.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Natty and Polly (opened in a new window/tab)

Making storage beautiful

Combining aesthetics with an efficient organization is always a design dilemma. And in fact, kitchens often end up being one of two things: a pristine and spotless space that’s never used for actual cooking or a lived-in but quite messy space.

The objective here is creating a practical and organized storage system that also contributes to the room's aesthetics, bringing in layers of texture, organic shapes and colour variations.

Kitchen cupboard with vienna straw front.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Nainoa (opened in a new window/tab)
Kitchen with sculpural storage vessels at sight.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Nordiska kök (opened in a new window/tab)

Cooking as a biophilic exercise

Even if it’s sometimes perceived as a chore in the hustle of modern busy life, cooking can be a pleasure that brings people closer to the natural world.

Sight, sound, touch, smell and taste…all 5 senses are heavily used while cooking, in a grounding activity that’s quite the opposite of swiping fingers on a screen.
Cooking seasonal ingredients builds a connection with nature's changes throughout the seasons. And starting from raw produce is a chance to connect with the origin of food – a far from negligible aspect for city dwellers that source everything from supermarket shelves!

From a family perspective, cooking is for all ages.
It can be made into a game to appeal to children, and turned into an explorative journey through natural smells, tastes, shapes and fractal patterns (did you know that romanesco cauliflowers are an example of fractals in nature?)
And for adults, cooking is the perfect occasion to free one's inner child up and have fun!

Close-up of spices on a marble tray.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: H&M Home (opened in a new window/tab)
Tray styled with a sliced loaf of bread and a sauce.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: House Doctor (opened in a new window/tab)

 
Overall, a biophilic kitchen is both a functional space for cooking and a welcoming space to spend time together and have fun.
A space that – celebrating nature in every one of its aspects – offers the opportunity to connect people with nature through food.

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