Life In the Kitchen: IKEA's Report on Meeting & Eating in Today's Kitchen

Life In the Kitchen: IKEA's Report on Meeting & Eating in Today's Kitchen

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Carrie McBride
May 14, 2015

One of the things IKEA is most known for is putting on its anthropologist hat and using research on living habits to inform the design of products and the creation of new product lines. They've just released findings from their latest report Life at Home #2: Tasting the Moments all about how people around the globe eat and use their kitchens. We've pulled out some of the most interesting morsels to share: from how kitchen organization impacts what we eat to eating as a social (and social media) activity. Take a look...

A note on the report: the findings derive from previous IKEA research, external published research and a new survey of 8,500 people in eight cities around the world (New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Moscow, Mumbai and Shanghai). The quotes below are pulled directly from the report. I've added bolding for those who prefer to skim.

The interplay between how our kitchens are set up and how we eat:

...people around the world are more concerned about how their kitchen looks than about the contents of their cupboards and fridges...Mumbaikars and Shanghaians are the most relaxed about how their kitchens appear to others, whereas Parisians are more concerned about theirs, with one in five feeling uncomfortable or even ashamed of having friends in their kitchen. Basically, we tend to feel most at ease with others in our kitchen when it’s tidy and clean.

...one in five households in our study accidentally double up on food and drink items on a regular basis. These twin products often get pushed to the back of the cupboard and risk being thrown away when they go out of date.

...a quarter of urbanites feel bad about the amount of food they throw away.

...people make over 200 food-related decisions every day, most of which they can’t explain. However, we can have influence over our everyday food choices by making healthy food and drinks easy to see and the not-so-healthy stuff more invisible.

Challenges to cooking at home:

There are a multitude of reasons why everyday cooking is a challenge. But what it mostly boils down to for the people in the cities we’ve studied, is the lack of time... A lack of everyday inspiration is the second most common challenge.

But there is an upside: those who cook more also enjoy their everyday life a little more.

Food as a Social, Bonding Activity

Households today, from Shanghai and Moscow to Stockholm and New York, are finding it difficult to get together over a meal. Our study shows that as many as one in three people living alone wish they could eat together with others more often during weekdays.

Nearly a quarter of couples with children feel they aren’t eating together as often as they would like, and for one out of ten parents that brings a feeling of guilt.

Our expectations on what eating at home should be like is another obstacle. A quarter of people living alone in Paris feel that the size of their home is a major barrier to having people over.

A majority of people today have their meals outside the kitchen or dining room once or several times every week. In some cities these new traditions are especially evident – 54% of all Berliners don’t eat in their kitchens at all on weekdays.

(Image credit: Monica Wang)

Variety is the Spice of Life

...as many as 7 in 10 in our study enjoy trying new types of food a lot. But the weekday grind often means that our menus remain mostly the same. This is especially true for breakfasts, as more than half of our metropolitans start their days with a default morning meal.

Even dinners across the globe seem to leave plenty of room for more variation, seeing that four in ten of urban dwellers eat the same dish several nights a week.

For Better or for Worse: Eating and Social Sharing

...people are exploring what others are creating in social media, far more than they are creating content themselves

...one third of people across the cities in our study would actually prefer it if no-one was allowed to use social media when eating together.

The most common use of social media in all cities is actually interacting with friends or family when eating alone by chatting, texting or sending a picture of whatever is on the plate. And for the many people in urban areas living alone, that can mean eating by themselves becomes a little less lonely.

This report looked at how we meet and eat in the kitchen today. For a look at how IKEA envisions our future kitchens, check out → A Peek Inside the IKEA Kitchen of the Future: How We'll Be Living in 2025

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