In a culture where there is a plethora of social interaction but meaningful relations are sporadic, virtual or displaced, the multigenerational kitchen offers a foundation for physical, social and historical connection. Cultural exchange happens here.
The stage is set with a kitchen adjacent to the dining table. Natural light is abundant. Rooms are furnished by the middle generation with plenty of space for keeping important objects. The older generations bring important things – objects that carry stories, traditions and culture.
The table is large enough for everyone to gather, but casual enough to be used for children to work on projects while others do occasional work. One or two people can comfortably have breakfast or a late night snack. During a holiday the table is set with family linen, candlesticks and crystal. Extended family members gather in the multigenerational home.
Everyday the table is the nexus of activity. It is the place where coffee is sipped, news is read from digital tablets and paper, music videos are shared and software is taught to the elders. There are new things and old things. It is a place for daily encounters.
The kitchen dining table is an incubator of culture. It is where manners are cultivated. It's the place where people connect, where children learn to socialize. Stories are shared. Histories are told. It’s where values are transferred and understanding evolves. Family traditions are practiced and new traditions are born.
Memories and associations are created here. The scent of fish stew is inhaled to become a future memory. The preparation of bourbon soaked sugar cubes for the special Christmas drink is on center stage once each year. The ritual of setting a table is taught, and repeated. Stories of water conservation are discussed while doing the dishes. The comforts of steeped tea or brewed coffee or a glass of milk are satisfied.
In the multigenerational kitchen, objects brought from one generation provide for the next generation. Children learn from these things - the coffee pot, the dish for fish stew, the heirloom linen dishcloth. They are the things of life and here they each come with a story. Culture is nourished here. Values are exchanged. Family identity is cultivated.