Chain10 Founder Details How Asian Culture Is Leading The Way In Multigenerational Living

Chain10 Architecture & Interiors Founder and Managing Director Keng-Fu Lo’s unique background in clinical psychology and his consciousness of climate change allow his designs to best suit the human experience while not interrupting the environment. With a philosophy deeply rooted in climate-focused buildings, Chain10’s design not only reduces humankind’s footprint, but also pushes the boundaries of typical architecture and interiors through innovative designs.

Ken-Fu joined us for the aspire design and home 2021 fall issue to discuss the rise of multigenerational living, and how Eastern-style kitchen designs can revolutionize a home.

ADH: What makes Eastern- and Western-style kitchens different?
Keng-Fu Lo: Whereas in Western kitchens the main dish is the focus, the ingredients are the focus in Eastern kitchens. A typical Asian dinner has one main dish with 6 to 7 different sides and our cuisines tend to include more boiling, frying and steaming. Therefore, Eastern kitchens need to be designed around these factors, meaning the use of long, continuous spaces and a good stove hood to reduce the influence of negative air pressure. Two fridges are common in Asian homes, which means kitchens are usually open and spacious. Western cuisine, on the other hand, requires more baking and frying so western kitchens are made of more separated spaces. It’s also rare to see an oven in an Eastern kitchen.

ADH: Do you think having multiple kitchens can help keep the peace in multigenerational homes?
KFL: Yes, multigenerational homes are not meant to create conflict; they are meant to create shared livable space. Western multigenerational homes typically have multiple rooms, but a common shared kitchen. This then leads to conflict if one wishes to use the shared kitchen but is unable to. Having an Eastern-style kitchen allows family members to have the independence to live as they please yet still have a sense of togetherness.

ADH: What are some downsides to multigenerational homes/kitchens?
KFL: Of course, inner-family conflicts can make multigenerational living difficult; however, there are far more positives than negatives. The negative is that you may not always have a common understanding of certain matters. There are multiple opinions and views on how things should be done and sometimes this can cause conflict within the home.

The positives however outweigh the negatives. Multigenerational living allows for a pooling of resources and a division of labor. Not only does this benefit everyone economically, but it gives family members the opportunities to help each other out in nontraditional ways. For example, keeping up with the cleanliness of the home, having live-in childcare and more. Another positive aspect is that it creates and strengthens familial bonds.

ADH: How do Asian families with multiple kitchens traditionally dine? Together or separately?
KFL: In Eastern culture, we prioritize eating together, although we have two separate kitchens in the home. It is part of our tradition to value family time and dining together allows us to do so. It’s on rare occasions that we dine alone within the home if the entire family is present. On those days that we do dine together, we will use one kitchen to prepare our meals as we will later sit and eat in the dining room.

Photography courtesy of Chain10 Architecture & Interiors.

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