LAS VEGAS - The Virginia Tech Center for Design Research will unveil the innovative future of kitchen design and construction at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show Jan. 20-22 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The kitchen will be on display in the Las Vegas Convention Center South Hall S9005 as part of KBIS NeXT.

The kitchen is part of the FutureHAUS research project that explores manufacturing strategies and the greater integration of technology with architecture or, in other words, the industrialized production of smart homes.

Lead researcher Joseph Wheeler, professor of architecture and co-director of the Center for Design Research, and Denis Gracanin, associate professor in Virginia Tech’s Department of Computer Science, are working with an interdisciplinary team of students and faculty from industrial design, architecture, interior design, visual communication design, and computer science to envisage the kitchen – and the house – of the future.

And while this is the kitchen of the future, it isn’t science fiction. “The future is now,” said Wheeler. “The technology is here now, it just isn’t being fully integrated yet.”

The team is exploring how technology can be used to enhance user experience throughout the kitchen. For example, a camera in the oven that allows bakers to monitor their confections from anywhere in the house or a refrigerator that detects when staples such as milk are running low or out of date.

High definition displays are mounted in the backsplash where they can serve as a virtual window or a handy place to display recipes while cooking. A smooth glass countertop provides an uninterrupted work surface, but with convection burners mounted beneath it, it serves as a cooktop when needed.

The kitchen also explores improving accessibility and aging in place by incorporating elements such as touch or gesture to open cabinets and appliances.

Technology is a focus in the construction of the kitchen as well, demonstrating how assembly-line technology could be used to construct the kitchen as a complete modular “cartridge” that can be delivered to a site fully assembled —just as the intact kitchen will be transported from Virginia to Las Vegas.

On Thursday, Jan. 22 at 10 a.m., a panel discussion on the KBIS NeXT Stage in the Las Vegas Convention Center South Hall will explore how the kitchen and bath designer will add value to the process and see a kitchen delivered via an efficient industrialized process integrating cutting edge technologies and innovative new materials.

The panel includes Steve Brown, general manager, Jenn-Air; Daryl Nauman, key account representative, Hafele America Co.; Mary Jo Peterson, kitchen designer and consultant, Mary Jo Peterson, Inc.; Brian Yahn, sales manager, Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry; Joseph Wheeler, co-director, Center for Design Research, Virginia Tech; Denis Gracanin, associate professor of computer science, Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies is composed of four schools: the School of Architecture + Design, including architecture, industrial design, interior design and landscape architecture; the School of Public and International Affairs, including urban affairs and planning, public administration and policy and government and international affairs; the Myers-Lawson School of Construction, which includes building construction in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and construction engineering management in the College of Engineering; and the School of the Visual Arts, including programs in studio art, visual communication and art history.

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