Jessica Leigh Hester is a former senior associate editor at CityLab, covering environment and culture. Her work also appears in the New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York Times, Modern Farmer, Village Voice, Slate, BBC, NPR, and other outlets.
Innovations and prototypes from IKEA's Concept Kitchen 2025, on view in Milan.
Concept Kitchen 2025—a collaboration between IKEA, the design firm IDEO, and design students from Sweden's Lund University and the Industrial Design department at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands—suggests that a decade from now, our home cooking tools will be serious multi-taskers that reflect our evolving ethos around sustainability. A few sleek highlights:
Tables will be smart. The design includes a flashy, tech-equipped table that can double as a kids' play space and interactive cooktop. It's a responsive surface, thanks to induction cables wrapped beneath the surface and a projector that displays a version of a standard range.
Smart tables would recognize produce and meats placed on it and suggest recipes starring those ingredients. It would even teach you how to slice and dice more efficiently, offering up tips for chopping broccoli and more. Here's how it works:
Fridges will be relics. Operating under the assumption that “we will be able to purchase items digitally and have them delivered by robots, wherever we are, within minutes,” the prototype also features small, self-refrigerating containers. The idea is that we’ll be constantly ordering food in small quantities (sushi for dinner, omelets for breakfast), as opposed to filling a shopping cart with random items (wait—we got three kinds of spaghetti sauce?) on a weekly supermarket trip. Translation: we’ll be eating even more pre-made meals, not stocking up on ingredients, so storage space becomes less of a necessity. The prototype does include some visible produce storage—an effort to reduce back-of-the-fridge syndrome, where forgotten cloves of garlic are left to rot behind a milk carton.
In addition to guessing how we'll equip our kitchens—and hoping that we'll do so with what the retailer hawks—the prototypes also explore how we'll relate to global resources. For example, flowing "gray" sink water into a hydration system for indoor herb plants nods to ongoing concerns about the availability of clean water.
Top image: IKEA/Concept Kitchen 2025