The idea of using space more efficiently isn’t new. If you look at any industrialized nation where space is at a premium (we’re looking at you, metro Japan), you’ll see an array of innovative solutions that designers have come up with to make life easier. Whether you choose to live in a tiny house, or you’re renting a shoebox apartment, dreaming about a future where your kitchen works smarter is nothing short of necessary.

That’s why IKEA worked with design students to create its Concept Kitchen 2025 exhibit, which is currently on display in Milan at IKEA Temporary for a six-month run.

IKEA table 1

What’s most impressive about the design is how effortless it feels. When you first look at the space, it looks like any other display kitchen mockup that you’d expect to see if you visited an IKEA store today.

Look closer. As you do, you’ll notice the ingenious details and innovations that the design team devised.

IKEA kitchen 1

Here are some of the key concepts:

  • There’s no refrigerator. In an increasingly urbanized environment, with delivery drones becoming the norm, Concept Kitchen 2025 envisions a world where the weekly grocery trip is obsolete. With on-demand everything, we’ll have less food in the house, but it will always be fresh. Using naturally insular materials like ceramics to keep foods cool will combat the gross energy inefficiency of standalone refrigerators.
  • Water scarcity is an increasing global concern, so the sink will have separate means to handle both black and graywater usage. The cabinet under the sink houses a small dishwasher, which can make use of recycled graywater from the sink (such as water you used to wash vegetables, or drained from your pasta). Blackwater will run through sewer systems to a water treatment facility as it does now.
  • The table will suggest recipes, reheat your leftovers, and charge your iPhone. Put ingredients on the table that you want to use, and it will suggest recipes. Put pots and pans on the table and it will function as an induction cooktop. Place the ceramic container you were storing a slice of salmon in on the table and it will reheat it. Need to charge your tablet or phone? It can do that, too.

Here’s a video exploring all the capabilities of IKEA’s Table For Living:

Concept Kitchen 2025: A Table for Living from IDEO on Vimeo.

Clearly all the ideas we’re seeing in Concept Kitchen 2025 won’t make it into production, but they’re definitely some interesting concepts to consider. We look forward to seeing what makes it into our living spaces in the next 10 years. In the meantime, here are more photos if you can’t hop a plane to Milan right now.

IKEA kitchen 3 IKEA kitchen 4 IKEA kitchen 5

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[via PSFK, Concept Kitchen 2025]