x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

New designers keep busy in the kitchen

Design competition intended to introduce the possibility of unconventional solutions for ecologically friendly kitchens.

The kitchens of the future could include waterless dishwashers and refrigerator doors that harvest the energy used to open them.

A dozen aspiring interior designers will reveal their eco-friendly, futuristic kitchen plans at the Conceptualife competition in Dubai tomorrow.

The event at Mall of the Emirates includes participants from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran, South Africa, Turkey and Egypt.

Finalists from last year had concepts including systems for tracking refrigerated product freshness or separating rubbish; filtering systems to channel dishwater to indoor plants or a toilet cistern; and interactive screen displays for recipes.

One design incorporated glass walls holding water, with the level dropping to show how much had been used.

"The idea is to find highly unusual design situations that introduce the possibility of unconventional solutions," said Dr John Alexander Smith, who is on the competition's advisory board and is a professor of architecture and interior design at the American University of Sharjah.

The finalist Nada Yaqub, a student at the university, has incorporated the idea of floors that can capture energy from every step. The same could be done with the swing of a cabinet or refrigerator door.

"In the kitchen there is a constant state of energy change as it is used periodically throughout the day, so it would make sense to use a pressure-sensitive, power-generating floor to store the energy for use later within the kitchen," Ms Yaqub said.

It is hard to believe that an entire kitchen could be found within thediamond-shaped column - one metre wide and 3m tall, designed by Mohanned el Magdy, a student at Al Ghurair University.

"The design is beautiful and luxurious, but so small and compact that you would not imagine there is a kitchen inside," Mr el Magdy said, explaining that the pillar unfolds with the press of a button to reveal standard kitchen equipment such as a refrigerator or microwave oven.

Ahmed al Ali, the founder of X-Architects in Dubai and a judge for the competition, said he expected many of the designs would incorporate new technology.

Waterless washing using ultrasonic technology and a solvent, or high-pressure washes using less water could become more popular in kitchens, Mr al Ali said, adding he would also like to see more interactive displays.

"The kitchen is representing the new status of communication and the experience needs to be more interactive using technology," he said.

"Also, as the way we are living changes and the function of the kitchen is different - it is not any more for cooking but the heart of the home, a place where people socialise - we should see changeable, flexible functions to maximise the use of spaces."

X-Architects will offer the winner of the competition a paid internship.

While he finds the idea of incorporating sustainability into the competition and the designs interesting, Dr Smith says eco-friendly interior design is nothing new.

"A sustainable design could be something as simple as taking materials that were ripped out and recycling or reusing them - light switches, luminaires - and giving them validity in the new design," he said.

"Still, this is a great challenge revisited."

econroy@thenational.ae