Vooking: The Perfect Kitchen for Meatless Meals

Vooking. Whilst the word might sound like a new dance step from New York, there is in fact an extremely interesting question behind it: does a vegetarian cook need a different kitchen than somebody who prepares traditional home-cooked food? An interdisciplinary project team consisting of industrial and furniture designers, a cook and a carpenter decided to investigate. They soon came up with the answer: “Vooking”. Turning the idea into a prototype, however, took a little longer.

But first things first: it’s hard to ignore the fact that vegetarianism is a growth market. German vegetarian association Vegetarier Bund Deutschland (VEBU) assumes that around seven million vegetarians live in Germany. That’s around nine percent of the population. In addition to that figure, there are another 900,000 vegans – people who abstain not just from meat but from all kinds of animal products as well. And then there are the flexitarians too, of course – “part-time” vegetarians who only eat meat occasionally and only if it’s organic. Within the last 30 years, the number of people in Germany with a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle has increased more than ten-fold.

The reasons for this development are many and varied: “Nowadays many people – the over 50s, for instance – prefer vegetarian food for health-related reasons or because of sustainability concerns and their own ecological footprint. But quite a few of them opt for this type of diet purely because they enjoy it and because of the higher quality of the food,” explains Austrian industrial designer Mario Zeppetzauer. Whilst the farming and meat industries had to adapt to this trend long ago, Zeppetzauer and his team were breaking new ground – and had set themselves some ambitious goals: with the Vooking project, he aims to show that kitchen design can make vegetarian cooks’ work easier and, as Zeppetzauer puts it, “have a positive impact on the future of nutrition and cooking.”

Together with Stefan Degn, Zeppetzauer runs a design agency by the name of formquadrat. From the Red Dot “Best of the Best” award all the way to the iF design award in silver, the company’s trophy cabinet contains pretty much every design accolade the sector has to offer. For the Vooking project – the word is short for vegetarian cooking, by the way – the two of them teamed up with furniture designer Stefan Radinger, chef Harald Hochettlinger and carpenter Gerhard Spitzbart. Together they thought about what a model kitchen for vegetarian cooking ought to look like. The result is Vooking – a design that rethinks the topic from scratch and which, during its development, resulted in numerous innovations and even two patents.

A few examples: a great deal more foods have to be cleaned and washed when cooking vegetarian cuisine. That was taken into account when developing the innovative two-basin sink, which has additional surfaces around the perimeter and is designed to be both modular and flexible. The sink also features integrated equipment for controlled sprouting. Whereas you can get by with around 20 spices for conventional dishes, accomplished vegetarian cooking calls for up to 50 different seasonings. Vooking therefore provides enough space for 36 spices that are stored in upmarket ceramic containers with an integrated mortar, arranged to be visible at a glance. The model kitchen also focuses on grains, which can be dispensed out of the sacks with an integrated scale. The grain mill has been devised like a built-in appliance and, like the rest of the kitchen, satisfies the highest standards of modern design. Indoor farming for growing fresh herbs and spices is just as much part of the concept as a cooling system that adapts to the various types of food.

The Vooking prototype, which was developed with the support of numerous cooperation partners (Gaggenau, TEAM 7, Dornbracht, Eisinger Swiss/Franke, Cosentino, Pfeffersack & Soehne, SFK Tischler and the IMPULSE development scheme), won’t be ready for the market for some time yet. Even so, at LivingKitchen 2015, visitors will be able to get an idea of just how revolutionary the concept is: the trade show will be presenting the kitchen study to the public for the first time.

Source: Koelnmesse, reprint free of charge.