The kitchen island has long been a staple of many homes. A surprisingly utilitarian feature, it assumes many roles at once. It acts as a surface on which meals can be prepared, homework done, dinner eaten, and heads rested. Over the years, however, the kitchen island has become even more integrated into family living, and these days it’s also used as an extra storage space, room divider, and seating area. Architects and interior designers find playful and innovative ways to reimagine it all the time, which is why its now one of the most truly multifunctional pieces to ever grace the inside of the home.
It remained this way until around the 1930s, when the middle class came into existence and the divide between staff and family was no more. In fact, middle class families didn’t have staff at all after the Great Depression, when famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright set about reinventing the suburban house with open plan living. This concept created fluid spaces in which all family activities were integrated, and nowhere was this more apparent than in the kitchen.
Nowadays, kitchen islands take on many unique forms. Some recent trends include the use of different materials like marble, wood, and concrete to break up the island, after which each section is dedicated to a different purpose. Butchers blocks are also common things to see worked into modern islands. New York interior designer Michael Wood has even taken to designing islands that are fitted with USB ports for charging phones, incorporating sinks and shelving and making directional fixtures over the island the primary focus of the kitchen’s lighting design.