As the recession took hold in the U.S. over the past five years, spending on home renovations plummeted. But, oddly, people were still spending on their kitchens. It seems that making—and sharing—meals is more important than the economy.
The kitchen, somehow, is more than just a room. It's the hearth—a space that, at its core, hasn't changed much since the early days of humans. Yet so, so much has changed. And will change. At Gizmodo's Home of the Future this month, we're exploring how—and we're bringing you along with us.
To understand how we're thinking about the future of food, it helps to understand how our recent ancestors thought about it. For the past century—or roughly since electricity came to the average home—the kitchen has been the focus of intense, dramatic visions for the future.
Food-borne futurism goes way back at least into the 1800s, and those visions of what's to come were almost always about speed and convenience. Feminists of the 19th century saw a single-pill meal as their ride out of indentured servitude. Before the microwave was even invented, Americans of the 1950s were dreaming of gadgets that made meals at the push of a button. Even in the late 1960s, we imagined that robot servants would be wheeling us our grilled cheese at a moment's notice.
But as the century-old dream of fast food and easy living has worn thin with use, a subtle shift has taken place inside the average kitchen. Lately, making a meal isn't so much about speed as it is about finding interesting new tools to do it with: Whether it's Anova's brand-new sous-vide gadget that you control with your phone, or trying out a recipe from the experimental cookbook Modernist Cuisine, or making a slow cup of coffee in a beautiful glass coffeemaker called, appropriately enough, Manual, that puts a morning ritual on display.
Likewise, these days instead of being obsessed with not having to think about our food, we want to think more about it. Where do those greens come from? Perhaps from an ingenious vertical garden tower from Windowfarms, a little Brooklyn startup that's popularizing the idea of home farming far and wide.
In other ways, though, we're just as obsessed with the science of food as we were in the 1950s and 60s—although, to us, the science is all about making meals taste better, not necessarily making them easier to prepare. Take this ingenious tool made by Coravin, which uses a needle to pump argon through a cork to extract wine when and where you want it without ever having to pop the bottle open. Or this tiny metal wand called a Clef du Vin that instantly replicates the process of aging wine. And just about everything, right down to the curve of a glass, can enhance the taste of beer—including this connoisseur's set from MoMA.
This tech isn't about speeding things up: This stuff makes us want to spend more time in our kitchen, not less. And, just like a good meal, it's way more fun in person than on the internet. So come hang out with Gizmodo and discuss the way we live now, and the ways we'll live in the years to come, at our Home of the Future, located in SoHo from May 17 through 21. And, yes, there will be a valet for your flying car.
Hours: 11:00 am to late. The Gizmodo gang will be working on-site all week—with super-fast wifi, on snazzy furniture—and we'll be hosting events every night. Check back for more information on how to RSVP.
For all media inquiries regarding the Gizmodo Home of the Future, please contact Patrick Kowalczyk at firstname.lastname@example.org.