As we considered the charette topic, ‘the Kitchen meets the Workspace’, we focused on how individuals interact with and enjoy kitchens in different ways. Some prefer the solitude of cooking alone while others like sharing the space, seeing the kitchen as a social arena, dividing various cookery activities, such as making sauces or chopping vegetables, between them. We also recognised that, due to technological developments and busy urban lives, many people no longer cook.
Co-working spaces have sprung up as attractive hubs that are enjoyed by entrepreneurs and independent workers alike, especially among younger generations, who value collaboration. Different companies share the same workspaces, with software developers, architects, artists, photographers and engineers working metres away from bakers and writers. Working spaces have expanded beyond the traditional office, and now incorporate lounges, gardens, maker labs, 3D print workshops and kitchens. Business is even conducted over ping-pong.
Given this context of the changing workplace, we questioned what kind of kitchen workspace would engage this ‘new’ professional? How can we design a kitchen for everyone? What can be done with current kitchen infrastructure? At HOK, we tend to always fully explore the context of a design challenge to help formulate the right questions, and sometimes this produces surprising results.
This led us to design Zip-Over!, a mobile app that creates a unique co-kitchen experience, to engage people with their communities. Users may search via an Airbnb-style database to identify nearby kitchens, according to preferences such as food, the chef or type of guests.
Let’s use Joe’s story as an example: a graphic designer who attends a co-kitchen event with three writers and a book editor. The editor books the event through the Zip Over! app, reserving the kitchen in a Peruvian restaurant that provides the chef, but where all participants help with food preparation and learn to cook new recipes. The editor sent invitations to Joe and the writers via the app. Before attending, Joe used the app to advise other guests about his food allergies.
The result: the editor found a unique platform to discuss his new interactive book while Joe and the writers expanded their networks and shared new opportunities. Zip-Over! essentially created an environment where work meets play.
Or consider Dan, a company managing director. He books a kitchen in an exclusive neighbourhood that enjoys unparalleled sea views, and invites colleagues from his firm over to dinner, along with a real estate developer whom he would like to invest in a project. Dan is not skilled in the kitchen, so he uses Zip-Over! to hire a well-known French chef, whose culinary prowess breaks the ice and creates rapport among the dinner guests, allowing Dan and the developer to bond.