Kitchen Work Triangle or the Golden Triangle in Interior Design parlance is an imaginary triangle drawn with the refrigerator, stove and the sink as the three corners. The Work Triangle has been briefly discussed in the article on modular kitchen but here, we will discuss it along with some understanding of its advantages and why its so important. We will also talk about the work triangle in relation to the various types of kitchens which have been discussed in a separate article.

As a disclaimer, for some reason even though we discuss everything in meters, we stick to inches and feet when discussing things like our own height as well as most of the things related to interiors. Note than for the sake of the mathematically disabled (like us), 1 meter = 3.3 feet (approximately). So every time you see a figure in feet, just divide it by 3.3 to get the figure in meters.

How do you define a Work Triangle?

A Kitchen Work Triangle is basically a very simple design concept which is used to optimize the space in the kitchen. While the concept itself came up in the 1930’s, it is as relevant now as it was almost a century ago. It works on the premise that a cook should ideally spend most of the time preparing the dishes. For this reason, and to ensure that the cook does not get tired, the distance between the three most frequently visited places should be optimized. These three places, which are also the three corners of the Work Triangle, are the stove (cooking), sink (washing) and the refrigerator (storage).

These three areas are uniquely qualified in a kitchen since they can neither be next to each other because of the features they have and nor should they be too far away. This is because a cook spends most of his walking time in a kitchen commuting between these three areas.

What are its features?

The main feature that an Interior Designer needs to consider when undertaking a project is to make sure that the distance between the stove, sink and refrigerator is not less than 4 feet and not more than 9 feet.

Apart from this, several other considerations are there:

  • The sum of the three sides should be between 13 and 26 feet. This is to ensure that the total as well as the average time of walking is minimized.
  • When commuting between the two corners of the triangle, there should be no interference. This is a common issue in Island kitchens where the island may interfere between two or sometimes between all lines.
  • The lines of the work triangle should avoid intersecting with any other major traffic in the house.
  • Depending on the type of kitchen, Work Triangle may not always work. Example is a one-wall kitchen where by definition; all things are in one line. Best judgment is necessary in such cases.

Is the Work Triangle relevant in modern kitchens?

As kitchens and cooking methods modernize, there are a lot of changes which have already happened in kitchens.

  1. Refrigerator is not the only storage space. There are other pantries for storing consumables. Some families even have 2 refrigerators.
  2. Dishwashers have slowly started becoming integral to a kitchen and they have to be placed close to the sink taking up significant space.
  3. Numbers of appliances for cooking have been increasing. A kitchen now has stove, grill, microwave, baking oven, rice cooker, induction, air fryer only for cooking purpose. Add to this the list of appliances for mis-en-place (juicer, dry grinder, wet grinder, chopper) and the list is simply endliess.
  4. Spaces are becoming smaller sometimes making it impossible to have the 4 feet rule applied.
  5. There is a huge variety of hardware and accessories available in kitchen making a lot of things much more convenient than they ever were.

These are just some of the reasons why many modern designers get confused if a work triangle makes sense or not.

In modern kitchens, Work Triangle has to be considered while keeping in mind the lifestyle of the family as well as the kitchen layout. Work Triangle can be kept in mind while discussing the style of cooking, number of cooks, time spent in kitchen as well as the actual space available. In one kitchen, it may make total sense to work on the traditional Work Triangle definition while in another kitchen, an oven may be taking center stage and things have to be reworked based on that.

Work Triangle should not be adhered to as an immutable concept from which you cannot budge. A Work Triangle should be used as a concept which can be used as a core while considering design options for the kitchen.

Attention to Work Triangle helps to prevent the cook from walking a marathon during the day in the kitchen. It works on the premise that the more amount of time that someone has to spend walking, the more that person will get tired as well as waste time. By reducing this time, efficiency of work can be increased and energy spent on the same amount of cooking can be reduced.

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