Design Observer

About
Books
Job Board
Newsletters
Archive
Contact



Observatory

About
Resources
Submissions
Contact


Featured Writers

Michael Bierut
William Drenttel
John Foster
Jessica Helfand
Alexandra Lange
Mark Lamster
Paul Polak
Rick Poynor
John Thackara
Rob Walker


Departments

Advertisement
Audio
Books
Collections
Dear Bonnie
Dialogues
Essays
Events
Foster Column
From Our Archive
Gallery
Interviews
Miscellaneous
Opinions
Partner News
Photos
Poetry
Primary Sources
Projects
Report
Reviews
Slideshows
The Academy
Today Column
Unusual Suspects
Video


Topics

Advertising
Architecture
Art
Books
Branding
Business
Cities / Places
Community
Craft
Culture
Design History
Design Practice
Development
Disaster Relief
Ecology
Economy
Education
Energy
Environment
Fashion
Film / Video
Food/Agriculture
Geography
Global / Local
Graphic Design
Health / Safety
History
Housing
Ideas
Illustration
India
Industry
Info Design
Infrastructure
Interaction Design
Internet / Blogs
Journalism
Landscape
Literature
Magazines
Media
Museums
Music
Nature
Obituary
Other
Peace
Philanthropy
Photography
Planning
Poetry
Politics / Policy
Popular Culture
Poverty
Preservation
Product Design
Public / Private
Public Art
Religion
Reputations
Science
Shelter
Social Enterprise
Sports
Sustainability
Technology
Theory/Criticism
Transportation
TV / Radio
Typography
Urbanism
Water


Comments Posted 08.27.10 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Alexandra Lange

NYT Opinionator: What's Cooking in Kitchen Design?


Second of my three installments for the New York Times Living Rooms series, this one on kitchens: What’s Cooking in Kitchen Design?

So how did we go from efficiency to entertainment? In Mad Men, Betty Draper has wall ovens and a stove-top island, both desirable today; the differences are the brown plaid wallpaper and cabinets made from dowdy knotted pine. In other words, what felt like a battle in the 1920s was, by the mid-1960s, a victory. The emphasis on time-saving consumer technology, born in the Frankfurt Kitchen and fueled by the postwar domestic revolution in the United States, brought us the microwave, the fridge-freezer combo, the automatic coffee maker and a thousand other gadgets; with those in place, we could relax. The barrier between the workplace of the kitchen and the social space of the living room broke down; we could invite the rest of the family in.

My favorite discovery during my research for the piece was the Hoosier cabinet, pictured above, a turn-of-the-century labor-saving device that put all ingredients and utensils within the cook’s reach. Many examples even had rule-of-thumb recipe charts developed by “home engineer” Christine Frederick pasted inside the cupboard doors. (For a great visual history of the American kitchen, buy America’s Kitchens published by Historic New England.)

My original inspiration for this essay was the upcoming MoMA exhibition Counter Space: Design on the Modern Kitchen, which opens September 15 on the museum’s second floor (always exciting when design breaks out of its third-floor ghetto). I interviewed curator Juliet Kinchin for the story, and the exhibit sounds amazing, starting with the installation of a real Frankfurt Kitchen (1926-1927), one of thousands installed in German social housing in the 1920s and 1930s.

Designed by Margarete Schutte-Lihotsky, the kitchen is (appropriately? ironically?) the earliest work by a woman architect in the museum’s collection, as well as one of the most influential. What first struck me about it — shallow, I know — was its color palette, which looks so current and so Remodelista. And those bins! I need those, and so do you.

On a personal note, since this was cut from the story: I grew up with the dread avocado fridge. Not my mother’s choice, what our house in Cambridge came with. Funny thing is, by next year, I think they are not going to be a joke anymore.

Finally, so my blog doesn’t become all D/R, all the time, just a link to Pentagram’s new post on my book Design Research, which shows inside spreads and talks about how the design and writing team worked together.

And another link to Architizer’s excellent summary, From D/R to IKEA.

|
Share This Story

Comments

Design Observer encourages comments to be short and to the point; as a general rule, they should not run longer than the original post. Comments should show a courteous regard for the presence of other voices in the discussion. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments that do not adhere to this standard.
Read Complete Comments Policy >>


Name             

Email address 




Please type the text shown in the graphic.


|
Share This Story



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect's Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.
More Bio >>

DESIGN OBSERVER JOBS









BOOKS BY Alexandra Lange

Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities
Princeton Architectural Press, 2012

Design Research
Chronicle Books, 2010

More books by contributors >>

RELATED POSTS


Artist’s Cookbook: David Levinthal
David Levinthal's recipes of choice, his mother's brisket and her chocolate roll, are both nostalgic and riddled with more complex meanings.

Artist’s Cookbook: Kiki Smith
Kiki Smith takes the body and turns it inside out. She makes art from innards. But she eats salad.

Designer’s Cookbook: Jake Tilson
Only in the layered, interconnected culinary world of graphic designer, artist, cookbook author Jake Tilson could huevos rancheros eaten in Los Angeles inspire someone to cook Baid Masus, or Baghdad Special Eggs, a 13th-century Arab dish.

Designer’s Cookbook: Louise Fili
Lousie Fili on her love of Italy, type and food.

Artist’s Cookbook: Joel Meyerowitz
Photographer Joel Meyerowitz's story of marriage and pasta con le sarde.