Think of zone design as an expansion upon, rather than a replacement for, the classic work triangle approach to kitchen design and layout. It's a practical (and increasingly popular) way to group kitchen activities together in appropriately organized spaces, allowing for multiple cooks and work centers.
While the work triangle focuses on the positioning of the range, refrigerator and sink, zone design addresses the full scope of appliances, plumbing fixtures and gadgets available to today's homeowners. It also considers the many activities — entertaining, doing homework, charging cell phones and more — that occur in the kitchen, as well as the fact that kitchen size is growing and floor plans are more open to the rest of the home.
But don't fret if you don't have a kitchen large enough to house a distinct area for every activity: few people do. Prep, cooking and cleanup areas are the primary zones, and they're mandatory. All other zones (baking, beverage and communication centers, for example) are not necessary and therefore called auxiliary zones. By combining some zones into one area or eliminating zones that don't fit into your layout and lifestyle, you can make your kitchen multi-task just like you do.
A few tips:
Prep and cleanup zones combine well
Baking and cooking zones combine well
Islands can host multiple zones with ease
Consider adding just one element of an auxiliary zone — a key appliance or critical storage cabinet — to a primary zone