Kitchens that go round

Paving the way towards circular kitchens through circular design strategies

Over recent decades the kitchen has become a more integrated part of our homes, a central place where we spend a lot of our time cooking, eating, socialising and many other activities.

Although the role of the kitchen has changed drastically, its design has not changed much and is characterised by its use of resources and energy throughout the lifecycle. The kitchen is, more than other parts of the home, subject to extensive renovations and previous studies have shown that premature alterations and replacements of the kitchen and its appliances lead to unnecessary material flows and climate impact. The kitchen industry, as well as our economy, is of a linear fashion and based on a ‘take-make-dispose’ model. Considering the number of kitchens that currently are being produced, used and wasted, it is interesting to explore how the current kitchen standard can be developed in a more resource-efficient direction and with a focus on reducing waste.

One way to achieve resource-effectiveness and eliminate waste generation is through the concept of a circular economy. In a circular economy, the environmental and economic value of materials are kept in the system for as long as possible and products are repaired, recycled, refurbished and put back into circulation. Although the concept has gained significant attention in business and academia recent years, knowledge and strategies on how to bring circularity into practice remains limited.

Designing for a circular economy is complex and requires a perspective on the entire lifecycle of a product or object and a change of mind-set from ‘object creator’ to ‘solution provider’. There is a lack of guiding principles, strategies and methods for designers, architects, decision makers and the industry on how to bring circularity into practice.

Therefore, this research aims to explore and apply circular design strategies in practice, which will lead to design solutions for kitchen based on the circular economy concept. These will be developed, co-created, tested and evaluated in practice in collaboration with a variety of industry partners.