Making the Great Outdoors Better:
the outdoor kitchen and the changing design of American luxury
Keywords:Interior design, Outdoor Kitchen, Spatial design
The credit-rich late-twentieth and early-twenty first centuries allowed for the rise of a broad spectrum of new consumer habits. In suburban America, homeowners realized their individual dreams and newly enabled profligate tastes in lavish professional and do-it-yourself (DIY) remodelling projects. Chief among their architectural and interior design modifications is the so-called ‘outdoor kitchen,’ installed in over a million American households and projected to become a stock feature of all upscale housing by 2015. In definition, it is an amorphous, wall-less room with individually determined dimensions, appliances and functionalities sited in what one owner-designer identifies as the previously underutilised space of the backyard. Currently free of restricting code or traditions, the outdoor kitchen is determined by and gives form to diverse but intersecting discourses of Do-It-Yourself home projects, home spas and meditative spaces, the yearning for resorts left unvisited in the wake of 9/11, changing gender relations, televised food programs that fuse celebrity and the act of cooking, the ‘obesity epidemic’ and the elevation of food itself from mere nutrition to a source of novelty and entertainment. Thus the outdoor kitchen is a new arena of socio-domestic performance, the built environment of the contemporary ‘American Dream.’
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