A kitchen that responds to a homeowner's energy levels and mood, produces homegrown vegetables, monitors nutritional deficiencies to recommend appropriate meals, or adapts to individual ergonomic needs? Over the next 30 or so years the kitchen will evolve to do all these things and more, according to a recent study by the Future Laboratory for contemporary home furnishings company Ikea.

Researchers polled 1,895 people aged 18 to 65-plus years old in the United Kingdom, including Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland about their opinions of kitchens of the future. Respondents indicated that kitchens of the year 2040 will not only conserve energy and perform sustainably, but also will respond to individual users' ergonomic and health needs, moods, and lifestyles, as well as reduce the user's direct involvement in food preparation and cleaning. 

Some key findings of the study—which read more like a wish list—include:

  • 41 percent of those surveyed expect that by 2040, kitchens will perform cooking tasks;
  • One-third of respondents in the Republic of Ireland and 21 percent in the U.K. think they won't have to update or maintain smarter appliances;
  • 44 percent think the most important feature of a kitchen will be its ability to save energy;
  • 57 percent believe that technology will make kitchens smarter and more intuitive to improve the user experience;
  • 41 percent predict that kitchens will become self cleaning.

Other predictions from the study:

  • Kitchens and garden spaces will merge, encouraging home food production.
  • Seamlessly integrated technology will relieve users of laborious tasks.
  • Kitchen spaces will automatically modify and reconfigure themselves to accommodate the psychological and physical needs of their users, through lighting and ergonomic design.
  • Kitchens will monitor and diagnose individual health needs, such as nutritional deficiencies, and provide meals appropriate to those needs.
  • Kitchens will conserve water and better manage waste.

Based on the study's findings, Ikea developed three "future kitchen" concepts that combine intelligent design with intuitive, responsive, and organic performance: the mood-responsive, health-monitoring INTUITIV; the technology-light, food-producing, and resource-conserving ELEMENTARA; and the high-tech, self-managing, and labor-reducing SKARP.