The Ethical Kitchen Project: A Machine for Cooking

Why are contemporary kitchens so big? Danish designer Tobias Tí¸stesen poses this question on behalf of the environment, as well as our quality of life: “Do we really need all those one-purpose machines that then require big kitchens with a lot of space?” Tí¸stesen thinks not, and to prove it, he designed the Ethical Kitchen, a prototype that pares the room down to its essential elements. “We need to scale down in the future,” he explains. “We also need to start using our senses and to demand more of design the same way we do of the food we eat.” 

Tí¸stesen conceived and constructed the Ethical Kitchen as his final project for his master’s degree in industrial design from Denmark’s Kolding School of Design. It’s been so well received that he’s currently in talks to put the design into production.

Photography by Ida Buss.

Above: “The project is about taking a step backwards and asking what we really need,” writes Tí¸stesen in his design brief. So we asked him: In the kitchen, what do we really need? “We need to surround ourselves with basic tools of good quality,” he responded. “Long-lasting materials that can be maintained and that offer multiple uses.”

About: Tí¸stesen’s pick of the most essential tools? “With two really good knives,” he says, “one can do most things in the kitchen.” The kitchen countertop is Eco by Cosentino, a terrazzo-like surface made from recycled ceramic and glass. 

Above: The Ethical Kitchen is constructed of FSC-certified ash from northern Germany. Plates are stored in a wall-hung leather case.

Above: Tí¸stesen likens cooking to industry: “I found that a lot of the processes happening in the kitchen are quite similar to what happens in a factory–it’s a food workshop.” His design, he hopes, will inspire people to “reflect upon how things work, where they come from, and maybe also tells the story of how we need to give things back–produce scraps, for instance–instead of just taking and using.”

Above: The Ethical Kitchen is designed without screws or brackets, so it’s easy to disassemble–either to take with you when you leave, or to reuse/recycle.

Above: The designer wanted the kitchen not just to be eco-friendly but also to have a simple Nordic beauty.

Above: The framework is on display as a visual clue that it can be disassembled.

Above: Tí¸stesen built the kitchen himself from raw ash planks. Here, the cabinet handles are in progress. 

Above: The designer’s office during his master’s studies at Kolding School of Design in Denmark. 

Above: A cardboard model of the Ethical Kitchen.

Above: The designer is also the builder: Tí¸stesen’s tools for constructing the leather dish rack. 

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