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Kitchens of the future

Five innovative design concepts presented by Indesit at Eurocucina 08.

Eurocucina has been called the most important international kitchen furniture expo. Held in Milan, the show attracts a large European following and showcases future kitchen trends as companies present prototypes and conceptual designs alongside current innovations.

At this year's show, Indesit created a Concept Zone to represent the company's current and future thinking. In the Concept Zone, five prototype designs give voice (sometimes literally!) to new generation appliances that anticipate future kitchen evolution, with an emphasis on space and ergonomics.

The prototypes were developed in collaboration with Makio Hasuike and a team of young designers from the department of industrial design at the Politecnico in Milan and produced in collaboration with Turin-based IDEA Institute.

Here's a quick roundup of the five designs Indesit presented.

Look, Ma, no hands! Just talk to the oven. Indesit

Sophius is a fully voice-controllable oven. Tell Sophius what program to use, the temperature to set, and how long your food cooked, and the oven responds immediately. Pros: Someone in the house will finally listen to me! Also, my husband can't claim he didn't know how to cook the chicken. Cons: Sounds like this oven might be too easy to use--I'd worry about my children "accidentally" sabotaging my meals.

Efesto is a set of Scholtès cooking modules that let you configure your space any way you see fit, quickly and easily. The pieces are anchored via a magnetic system integrated directly in the countertop. Self-contained gas or electric systems within each module allow users to rotate and remove them with plug-and-play ease. Pros: Flexibility and incredible wow factor, plus increased kitchen efficiency. Cons: Honey? Where's the stovetop?

Kubik is a more-in-one multifunction kitchen appliance that combines an induction hob, traditional and steam ovens and a hood, and a teppanyaki plate. Auxiliary functions are also built into the sides of the cube, including built-in weighing scales, a calorie calculator, and software that suggests a menu for the day in line with given diet requirements. Pros: Space-saving and smart. Cons: Do I really need my appliances to tell me what to eat?

Gravity is a wall-mounted kitchen system designed to free under-counter space and create functional kitchens in small spaces. It combines a dishwasher, oven, fridge, and wine cellar and features power-assisted opening. In fact, it reminds me a little of this portable kitchen we told you about a few weeks ago. And, like that unit, this one is designed with accessibility in mind. Pros: Studio apartment owners, rejoice! Cons: Not as original as the rest of the concepts presented.

Finally, Coolbricks is an innovative fridge concept that lets you customize cold channels of air for different foods inside a single unit. And each module pops out individually, so that you can take your cold food anywhere in the house. Plus, you can activate only the modules where you actually have food stored. Bare fridge? Save some energy! Pros: Cool idea, and green is good. Cons: All that green makes me feel guilty about opening up the fridge every five minutes to see if something new has materialized.

All in all, it looks like the kitchen is still the place where cool technology is hot.