Announcing the Top 5 Finalists for FirstBuild’s Micro-Kitchen Challenge

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We said our panel of judges would have a tough job narrowing the 10 finalists for the Micro-Kitchen Challenge to the Final 4, and we were right. They said they found five designs that are worthy of finalists prizes, so we upped the prize pot and awarded $2,500 prizes to the top five designs.

Thanks to our judges:

  • Scott Lundberg, acting chair of industrial design at Pratt Institute
  • Graham Hill, entrepreneur, TED talker, micro-living extraordinaire
  • Natarajan “Venkat” Venkatakrishnan, director of R&D for GE Appliances, Lead Facilitator for FirstBuild
  • Alex Tepper, managing director of GE Ventures
  • Steve Diskin, chair of industrial design at Pratt Institute
  • Lou Lenzi, director of industrial design at GE

microKITCHEN by Alexandra Jemnicka (Slovak Republic)

Jemnicka’s design won the judges votes for its cleverness and clean lines. Steve Lundberg said her design offered simple aesthetics and elegance. “The features really increase usability,” he said. Steve Diskin agreed and added that the design is clean without being mechanical.

Jemnicka is an architecture student and said her inspiration was from her small student room that lacks cooking and storage. Her favorite element is the sink plug-in feature, which makes food preparation and cleaning easy.

“I found this challenge as a great opportunity to share my ideas and work with the others,” she said. “So I am very glad to know that it was appreciated not only by professionals but also by possible users.”

Modular K-RC by Isaac Benjamin Robledo Cazares (Guadalajara, Mexico)

This elegant entry from architecture student Cazares impressed the judges for its modular design. Lundberg said although the environment was busy, he added that the modular design is smart. Hill commended Cazares’ design for identifying modules by activities. “Everything should have an exact purpose,” he said. Lou Lenzi said the Modular K-RC looks like it would be the easiest to install, deliver and set up.

Cazares is an architecture student from CUADD in Guadalajara and said he believes “form follows function.” He pointed out that the back of each module is door-like, for easy access in case of maintenance and repairs.

Modular Convertible Kitchen by Lautaro Vogel (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Vogel’s cool design brings the kitchen into the living space. Lundberg complimented this design for its transform-ability. “It cleans things up but doesn’t totally conceal them,” he said. Hill liked the idea of being able to go online and order everything the way the customer wants.

Vogel is an architecture student who said kitchens shouldn’t be dead spaces when they aren’t in use. He uses 3D visualization to show his designs and is interested in both interior and exterior design.

Ki7chen by Jolee Nebert (Seattle)

The dormroom-like design from industrial design student Nebert received judges’ kudos for thinking outside the kitchen. Alex Tepper liked the mini innovations, such as the magnets and Steve Diskin gave her high marks for going above and beyond to show possibilities beyond the kitchen. Lundberg suggested a Murphy bed, and Hill suggested the kitchen sink doubling for the bathroom sink.

Nebert’s favorite aspect of the design is its playfulness. “Imagine inviting your friends over for lunch, then shocking them when your kitchen slides out from nowhere,” she said. She found inspiration for the design from her silicone lunch container — which collapses and stores — and bright, modern kitchen utensils that are meant to be displayed.

All of the Buffalo by Tim Boyle (Arizona)

One of the only entries to incorporate laundry into the kitchen, Boyle’s design was a favorite. Diskin called the design provocative and but said the parts of this idea might be better than the whole. Hill likes the washer/dryer in the kitchen and notes that it would be popular in Europe. Diskin said he’d like to see a water element at countertop level and food transformation on top.

Boyle’s inspiration was a given: He raised five kids in a tiny Manhattan apartment.

What’s Next

FirstBuild’s next challenge is already happening, see the Indoor Grilling Challenge for details.

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