The New Corporate Boardroom – The Kitchen


The New Corporate Boardroom – The Kitchen


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Traditionally, companies looking to bump up their ‘employer of choice’ appeal offered flexi-time, an onsite gym or ‘recreation spaces’ — all mainstays of creative, design-based work environments. But something closer to home is fast becoming the coolest office feature: the kitchen.

Forget the token coffee bar, industrial-like canteen or soul-destroying cafeteria.

These kitchens are more intimate and home-like. They’re no longer hidden in the back office, but are centrally located or function as hybrid reception/lobbies. They come with communal dining tables that double as boardrooms, state-of-the art gadgetry for creative brainstorming sessions and client meetings over meals, and in some cases, a chef who serves up home cooked meals in case you don’t make it home in time for dinner.

What’s the lure of the kitchen?

While a workplace kitchen is nothing new, its new position reflects a growing trend toward a more open, collaborative work environment that resonates with millennials. In the 24/7 hyper-connected world we live in, where work/life boundaries are increasingly blurred, a kitchen is that safe neutral ground that allows us to occupy both worlds comfortably.

For group meetings, coming together in a convivial kitchen setting is disarming and less stressful.

A new book by Copenhagen-born, Berlin-based artist Olafur Eliasson, “TYT [Take Your Time] Vol. 5, The Kitchen”, gives insight into the kitchen’s link to creativity and collaboration. He talks about the centrality of the kitchen to the studio’s creative process. “The kitchen functions as social glue,” he states in the introduction. “It amplifies social relations and translates thoughts into food, into giving and sharing… By eating, we both use the world and produce it.”

As part of a daily ritual at the legendary El Bulli restaurant, the entire team stopped what they were doing at 6pm to enjoy a three-course dinner together, known as the ‘family meal’. The tradition was initiated by Chef Ferran Adria and was key to the restaurant’s phenomenal success. Adria’s book, “The Family Meal”, details the recipes and dishes the team shared.

Breaking bread isn’t just about promoting business bonhomie, it can be a driver for employee retention.

When Innermost, a lighting and  furniture brand, moved its Hong Kong office to a much larger space, it wasn’t enough to kit it out with Aeron chairs, terraces, or ‘comforts’ like Japanese loos with built-in bidets and dryers, to lure employees to its out-of-the-way location.  A kitchen and dining area was added so staff could relax at lunchtime. But not just any kitchen.

“We have 2 designers who are very keen bakers and one of them was trying to perfect cronuts so we bought her an oven,” explains co-founder Steve Jones.

How’s that for cooking up a unique corporate culture?

Photo credit and more information on TYT [Take Your Time] Vol. 5, The 


Catherine Feliciano-Chon

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