PROFILE: Dr Morgaine Gaye

As a food futurologist, Dr Morgaine Gaye explores future food trends, why we eat what we eat and believe what we believe. She combines this knowledge to offer insights into future kitchen trends

How will changes in food trends influence appliances?
Manufacturers can make anything, but if nobody needs it, then they’re not going to buy it. And I think we found that a little bit with sous vide – it’s a cool thing, but most people don’t have a use for it. We’re going to see lots of blenders and dehydrators [preserves and dried out fruit and veg]. Dehydrating is going to be a big thing in terms of saving what we’ve got, making it last and then rehydrating it when we need it.

How might that impact on the design and ergonomics of the kitchen?
I think appliances will be more connected and integrated into our lifestyle. So when we take that bottle of milk out of the fridge and it’s empty, then the fridge will let us know, and will let the place we buy it from know. I think we’ll start to see appliances that track you, track your needs, your nutritional requirements, your shopping needs and integrate all of that – so that it’s connected to you personally.

Which appliance manufacturers impress you at the moment?
I like Siemens. I like things that are functional and slick. Whenever I’ve spoken to any of the appliance manufacturers, the designers are really concerned about evolution, about making things better and making life easier for users. I’ve just spoken to someone from Kenwood and I thought they were quite interesting. They haven’t really played on their heritage, but they actually have some good people working for them. They’re all doing interesting things, but they are all making mistakes. They don’t always get it right.

Why did you decide to work with Siemens?
Because they are forward-looking. And they are looking for new ways to think about the future – and cooking. I think the kitchen is becoming an even more important part of our lives, because it’s about self-medication. And if you look at what’s really important, like water, like sound, saving people time – all of these are major trends we’re concerned with now. And I think that we bond over that.

Why do you think TV shows like The Great British Bake Off have taken off?
We’ve had cookery programmes for decades, but I think there is a rise in food being sexy, and part of that is because we can afford it. It used to be that you get your calories from eating, and that’s what food was. It wasn’t entertainment, it was just a necessity. And we’ve gone from food as necessity to entertainment.

What’s your impression of showrooms? Are they getting displays right?
I think retail showrooms are intimidating. Unless you wanted to buy a kitchen or an appliance, you wouldn’t go in, because there’s that sense that there’s nobody else in there. There’s a weirdness. It’s set up in way where it’s almost like going into someone’s house when they’re not there. You’re the only person in it and they’re coming for you. It’s a bit like a Hitchcock film

Do you think there’s anything retailers can do to change this perception?
I almost feel like kitchen showrooms need to be alongside other things, and that’s probably why Ikea do it quite well. So you could pair with other brands. If it’s a bathroom, you could have beauty product brands, soap brands. I feel like coming together with other products would be a good thing.

Do you think there is a lack of focus on the cooking element and how people interact with their kitchens?
For me, it’s the human interaction element that’s missing. When I was working in Norway, I used to talk to [the photographers] about this, they photographed food that looked like it had never had any human interaction. They’d photograph the perfect bowl, with the knife next to it. I said put the flipping spoon in it, dig out a lump and make it ooze, make it juicy and make people want to put their finger in it.

What about things like cooking demos?
That’s better. There’s more human interaction.

What do you think the kitchen of the future will look like?
We’re just getting to a place where it’s more integrated rather than the fridge, the cooker and me. When we used to talk about sci-fi and cyborgs, it seems really hard for us to understand, but we’re getting there.

We’re already becoming cyborgs. We can have embedded technology put in here [points to hand] and pay for small things just from the chip in my hand.

Already, technology is becoming us and we’re becoming it. And I think it’s the same when we see the kitchen of the future, it will know what we need, it will be able to give us our nutritional readings or data. So I think we’re going to have a house and a kitchen specifically, that’s going to really nurture us.

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