Sustainability and human-centered design captivate my interest - it makes us think critically about inclusiveness and the way that designers can create interiors that connect emotionally with individuals. I am from the small island of Trinidad and Tobago and find the small details fascinating. As I begin my career as an Interior Designer, I am eager to bring joy to potential clients and see visions come to life.
There is an overall increase in individuals eating alone and experiencing a sense of loneliness. The Social Kitchen is a space that offers a unique, hands-on culinary experience to help combat feelings of seclusion and promote human wellbeing through social cooking and commensalism. Individuals coming together to cook and enjoy a meal will be able to share a special experience, create lasting memories, and form tighter relationships. Restaurants are constantly looking for ways to become a more stimulating environment to keep customers engaged. Especially in this time of social isolation, we can all reflect on the importance of human interaction and how it enhances our quality of life.
Rationale and Design Narrative
Cooking with others may be a scary thought for many people, however the design aims to set aside all intimidated feelings by accommodating all abilities so that each person experiences that sense of equality and comfort. In order to make each person comfortable, there are various elements that are ensured in the design. The design of the Social kitchen entails flexibility so that spaces can be suited to fit the appropriate setting. The panels that enclose the social cooking classes are able to become fully open so that the space can accommodate any private, corporate event that will take place. Accessibility, acoustics & sustainability are factors that aim to satisfy the main goal of the social kitchen as they support the enhancement of human wellbeing. Zones are managed in the space by ensuring subconscious spatial separations. Different flooring materials, lighting fixtures, furniture elements are emphasized in the design to ensure different levels of intimacy are met.
Design Connection to Research
“Overall, the number of meals that people share is decreasing” Mestdag & Glorieux (2009). Some variables, such as age, income, gender, and work all have an effect on the outcome of eating and cooking with others versus alone. “Plausible explanations could be due to a modern busy lifestyle. As well as potentially due to loneliness, a subjective experience of social isolation with serious impacts on cognition, emotion, behaviour, and health” (Bofill, 2004; Hawkley & Cacioppo, 2010). In response to the research studied, interior designers should consider incorporating more stimulating environments in a restaurant type setting. This can potentially help encourage individuals to cook and eat socially to support the reduction of loneliness and aim to increase human wellbeing. Interior design drives the design narrative of bringing people together as the formation of the interior architecture and the surrounding environment will guide the users to participate in the culinary event - something that is more stimulating than just eating in a restaurant setting. Research validates this information as it emphasizes the importance of daily social interaction.
Character of Space
The design of the social kitchen is split up so that the top floor acts as a restaurant and the main floor entails the Culinary 'Social Kitchen.' The main floor can be completely opened up through sliding operable panels into the lounge/bar area. Corporate events can occur where resources on the main floor may be utilized. This culinary experience is a great team building exercise – Employees who work well in the kitchen together, can surely transfer that relationship to the office. The existing staircase takes you up to the second floor restaurant, which entails a slightly different atmosphere. However, the concept is incorporated throughout as the interconnected floors showcase the culinary Social Kitchen on the main floor. It focuses on the key concept of enhancing human wellbeing by making the featured culinary (social) kitchen visible throughout the restaurant. The design incorporates specific materials that ensures the necessary privacy for the individuals participating in this cooking event.