Designing a small space kitchen to make your own

Whether it’s shared or personal, for cooking a feast or heating up leftovers, most people find the kitchen essential to their homes – even with limited space. Oskar Ponnert and Andreas Fredriksson at IKEA worked on just that with ÄSPINGE, designing a modern kitchenette with life in a small space home in mind. 

Having spent most of his life in Sweden, a sparsely populated country, Oskar Ponnert is initially quick to think he doesn’t have much personal experience with living in a small space. But then, after a moment, his mind wanders back to his student years in the small, Swedish university town of Lund. A smile spreads across his face. 

“I was renting part of a big apartment, with a separate entrance. It was just a small hallway and a single room. The closest you could call a kitchen was a portable mini stove, but there was no refrigerator”, he recounts, letting out a slight chuckle as he adds: “I moved there in the middle of winter, so I could have this bag hanging out of the window, and that was my refrigerator.”

Though certainly not ideal, Oskar’s kitchen setup at the time was not subject to much change for several reasons, each strong enough on its own. The space was limited, he was a student on a budget, and it wasn’t his to go through the hassle to change. These are all factors relevant to many living in small spaces, and that made up some of the insights Oskar kept in mind as Product Design Developer for the IKEA ÄSPINGE kitchenette.

A ready-made kitchenette that comes in flat-packed parts, of course. ÄSPINGE is designed to be easy to assemble as well as partially disassemble, enabling a smoother move for when and if that day comes. It’s a feature owed in large part to the kitchenette’s simplicity – which doesn’t necessarily come easy by design. There was much pondering on all the potential functions of a kitchen, and some more on what could be cut and what should be spared. 

A small space kitchen design inspired by familiar vertical structures

“Usually, you’d think of a kitchen as something that you build, but here you have a solitaire, a kitchenette that’s really a piece of furniture”, says Andreas. “But it’s furniture that has to allow you to activate and store things in it in different ways, since that’s key in small spaces. That’s why we were initially thinking that it should have elements to pull out and set up when needed.”

Having experienced both a growing family and a downsized home over the years , Andreas knows plenty about maximising space. He’s concluded that a good mix of open and closed storage solutions goes hand in hand with creating open, versatile surfaces. And the final ÄSPINGE runs in that vein. 

“Eventually, we decided not to hide the functionality and instead make it part of a more open design and decoration of the kitchen”, says Andreas. 

His biggest takeaway from the project? 

“Everything doesn’t have to be stored away just because you live in a small space. Some things, like spices, fruits, and some utensils, can be really nice to have on display as well, as long as you have the right place for it.”

The ÄSPINGE kitchenette will be available in IKEA stores starting January 2023.