In the past, the kitchen was simply a working space. Over time, it has become a living space and the heart of many houses and apartments. It brings people together. We are now tasked with bringing this living space into the future, developing ideas and solutions and designing the best possible kitchen experience for people. To promote this change of perspective, the future kitchen lab has been set up at Nexus, the headquarters of BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding.
The BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding Future Kitchen Lab aims to supercharge even more innovations with the customer in mind. We paid a visit shortly before it opened its doors. Part of the kitchen is currently being assembled; the pictures are already up on the walls—the Future Kitchen Lab is taking shape. The space looks stylish and boasts an open, bright, and spacious layout. As soon as you set foot in the Future Kitchen Lab, you get a sense that it offers ample space for creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. This is where the future of the kitchen is being shaped.
With the Lab, BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding aims to create an innovative, creative, and agile working environment to accelerate innovation. “BLANC & FISCHER is kitchens!” To live up to this claim, we want to think much more strongly in terms of networks and solutions in the future, rather than in terms of individual products and components. We must demand and allow knowledge transfer between the subgroups. Our products and services are designed to improve kitchen living spaces as a whole,” explains Dr. Johannes Haupt, Chairman of the Management Board of BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding.
Daniel Czemmel, Director/Head of Business Development at Blanc und Fischer Corporate Services GmbH & Co. KG and Project Manager of the Future Kitchen Lab, explains: “Here, we offer the freedom necessary to inspire creative thinking through design, methods, and tools. We do this together with colleagues across functions and subgroups, as well as with our customers, suppliers, and external partners.”
A glimpse into the Future Kitchen Lab
FOR EMPLOYEES, CUSTOMERS, AND PARTNERS— FOR EVERYONE!
To achieve this, the Future Kitchen Lab takes a two-fold approach, looking both inward and outward. Inward, the target group comprises employees of the BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding companies, who can work creatively on specific themes. “At the end of the day, they don’t need to be 100% perfect. The aim is to use new methods and tools to promote innovative strength and capability, to become faster, and to think more strongly in terms of solutions. It is a space where inspiration, concepts, and thought-provoking ideas for further work in specialist areas are meant to be generated. We want to have a culture of experimentation in which it is okay to make mistakes, learn from them, and to be encouraged by them,” Czemmel continues.
The external effect is another use case. The Future Kitchen Lab serves as a tool to foster customer loyalty and open innovation, and is intended to create a living culture of openness and trust. Innovations can emerge from discussions and workshops with customers and partners. It is also intended to be a platform for startups and innovators. “It’s also an important tool for employer branding. As an alternative or in addition to the classic production facility tour, visitors can experience new ways of working here. For example, a group of students can get creative and chat in a relaxed atmosphere here, and perhaps we can gain new colleagues along the way.”
Above all, Daniel Czemmel hopes that focusing on the customer’s perspective, combined with the right methodology, will lead to more beneficial innovation. “The teams develop a product that addresses a problem at the customer’s end and adds value—that’s the classic value proposition design. We want to analyze more trends, understand customers and their problems, develop ideas, build prototypes, perform testing, and in the end place new, successful products on the market.”
NOVEL METHODS FOR BETTER IDEAS
To come up with the prototypes in the first place, the teams in the Future Kitchen Lab don’t just sit in front of (still) blank whiteboards but can use a variety of methods to develop ideas. “Many people are very visual beings. The creative output is much greater when they can actually see what they can build or design. So there are always digital tools, cardboard boxes, building blocks, and other materials at the ready— after all, this isn’t a game but modern methodical work,” laughs Project Manager Czemmel.
We also like to use the building blocks during creative warm-up exercises, to break the ice and loosen people up. What’s more, this method awakens creativity in people and makes their ideas tangible.” Sometimes an innovation that’s still a rough concept made of Lego blocks today turns into a real product in just a few months’ time. The Future Kitchen Lab also relies heavily on digital tools, for example virtual whiteboards, online meetings, and opportunities for livestreams. This is important so that colleagues from other locations, such as the USA or China, can also participate in workshops and share their international perspective. “More heads means more input and therefore more and better ideas. Thanks to the digital capabilities in the Lab, we can innovate across companies and countries.”
THE FOUR AREAS
To further boost outcomes, the layout of the redesigned Future Kitchen Lab follows a well thoughtout design. It is based on four cornerstones: IMAGINE, PREPARE, COOK, TASTE. In other words: be inspired, understand and define a problem, come up with ideas, build and test prototypes. When you enter the Future Kitchen Lab, you’ll see that the four areas are coordinated but separate entities. The IMAGINE section is not only about observation but also about understanding and analyzing kitchen trends and innovations. This is where things get creative in the minds of developers.
In the PREPARE section, participants can build and prepare things to their heart’s content. Here, the various subgroups come together and benefit from short communication and decision-making paths as well as from the findings and measures already taken in each case. This section is all about playing with cardboard, pen and paper, digital whiteboards, and analog building blocks.
The COOK section is all about the cooking process itself. It provides the necessary framework for using, trying out, and testing applications with consumers in the kitchen environment. So there’s a lot of actual cooking going on here.
In the fourth and final area, the TASTE section, workshop results, prototypes, and cooking processes can be presented, pitches and talks can be presented, and small events can be held. A grandstand seats the audience present on site, while customers and colleagues around the world can tune in online via a livestream.
Project Manager Daniel Czemmel hopes that the redesigned Future Kitchen Lab will lead to a stronger exchange across all divisions and subgroups of BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding. “With our customers, suppliers, and partners also helping to give us holistic view of our products and the world of cuisine. This enables us to take the lead in projects dedicated to designing the kitchen as a living space,” he says.