Kitchens are for Eating


By: John Clements

Let me start by saying this: I can’t possibly be the first one to think about this.

I’ve been working up in Mountain View, this week. It was a great trip, and I stayed in a totally gorgeous little place. When I got home from work, I either went running or biking. After that, I cooked myself a small dinner, ate it outside, then went into my room to get a bit of work done or get ready for bed.

It’s now Thursday night, and I’m back in my house in San Luis Obispo. I’m totally thrilled to be back with my family, and we spent some time hanging out… in the kitchen. Why were we in the kitchen? Because it’s the hub of family life here. And in fact, it’s the hub of family life in most of the “family-sized” houses I’ve lived in. I think it’s not going too far to suggest that one of the most prominent trends in home design of the last fifty years is the trend toward bringing the center of home life into the kitchen.

In some ways, this is a great thing; cooking is no longer an activity that drags someone (usually mom) into solitary servitude in a smelly and smoky corner of the house; modern kitchens are open and inviting and well-populated.

And yet… it’s suddenly not so hard for me to understand why Americans are getting fat, so quickly. I came home this weekend and sat in the kitchen, surrounded by delicious food. Was I hungry? No. Did I eat anyway? Sure! In fact, I feel as though my stomach has contracted significantly, just in four days; coming home and trying to eat what I think of as a normal meal, I find that I’m totally stuffed. It’s way too much.

So, what’s the lesson? It’s hard to see how to use this information. I certainly have no hope of changing the ocean liner of home design; I guess I’ll just have to take lots of camping trips, and try to remind myself that eating isn’t a continuous state of being.

Wish me luck.

Post Scriptum

Just talked to some Architecture Theory friends of mine. They think I’m nuts.