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Sat May 11, 2019, 03:18 AM

The Frankfurt Kitchen Changed How We Cook--and Live

You might not have heard of the Frankfurt Kitchen, but if you have neatly organized cabinets, an easy-to-clean tiled backsplash, and a colorful countertop, in a sense, you already cook in one.

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Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky (1897–2000) was the first Austrian woman ever to qualify as an architect. Following World War I, she was tasked with the design of standard kitchens for a new housing project by city planner and architect Ernst May. The Great War left rubble and a desperate housing shortage in its wake, but it also opened the way for new ideas and new designs.

There was a pervasive sense among Europe’s leading designers, from Le Corbusier in France to Walter Gropius and the Bauhaus in Germany, that the need to rebuild in the 1920s, though rooted in tragedy, offered a society fresh start, and a chance to leave behind the class distinctions that were baked into 18th- and 19th-century architecture while they were at it. Very much in this mold, Ernst May was a utopian thinker, and his International Style design for the Frankfurt project, known as New Frankfurt, featured egalitarian amenities for the community like schools, playgrounds, and theaters, along with access to fresh air, light, and green space.

For her part, though she was a career woman herself, Schütte-Lihotzky believed that housework was a profession and deserved to be treated seriously as such. This counted as feminism in the 1920s, and although we might find it essentializing or insulting today, making housework easier was considered a form of emancipation for women.

https://www.citylab.com/design/2019/05/modern-kitchen-history-design-ideas-domestic-architecture/586345/

17 replies, 760 views

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Response to Demovictory9 (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2019, 03:23 AM

1. Repost this in cooking and baking. This is good.

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Response to rusty quoin (Reply #1)

Sat May 11, 2019, 03:25 AM

2. will do

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Response to Demovictory9 (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2019, 03:39 AM

3. The final paragraph shows how blind contemporary people can be: the emancipation of women...

...took a tremendous leap forward when the Industrial Revolution entered the kitchen door. Before that, for a woman to have any leisure time at all (for whatever purpose) she needed to have a cook, laundress, and maid-of-all-work -- which meant her husband had to be able to afford such people.

The invention of the gas stove meant no one in the household had to chop wood or shovel coal. The invention of the washing machine meant no one had to handle heavy wet laundry in a tub, and it meant clothing could be laundered much more frequently.
The invention of the refrigerator and freezer meant grocery shopping need not be done every day.

A woman who could afford these 3 appliances in her home could live a life, not of leisure per se, but one freed of a continual round of backbreaking labor done by herself or others.

"Making housework easier" is absolutely a form of emancipation for women.

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Response to Hekate (Reply #3)

Sat May 11, 2019, 08:24 AM

5. +1000

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Response to Hekate (Reply #3)

Sat May 11, 2019, 09:36 AM

6. +2000.

Great article, great post. Thanks.

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Response to Hekate (Reply #3)

Sat May 11, 2019, 09:56 AM

7. In the early 1960's my Great Aunt Alida

lived in her Grandfather's farmhouse, and had not updated the house much at all.. Her kitchen did not even resemble ,modern kitchens..
her sink was not even IN the kitchen.. It was in an adjacent porch where the old pump had been located. It was officially plumbed sometime in the 1920's. When they did that they added walls & a doorway. Her refrigerator was out there as well.She still used a stove that was installed about the same time. There was no hot water in the "kitchen". She boiled water for mopping, and used a dishpan for doing dishes.She still used the root cellar too

Her kitchen was unusually large because all that was IN it was a large table with benches and a stove..

She also still had a crank style phone that we LOVED to use

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Response to SoCalDem (Reply #7)

Sat May 11, 2019, 03:48 PM

10. At my old family home, the kitchen is in a seperate building.

It was used in the summer as a woodstove would get the house too hot. The building was and still is called "the summer kitchen" to this day even though it hasn't been used as such since pre-WWII.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #10)

Sat May 11, 2019, 09:29 PM

15. Another consideration was accidental fire

Accidental fires were likely to start in the kitchen than any other portion of the house. If you extended the kitchen beyond the main structure then it was easier to prevent the fire spreading to the rest of the house.

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Response to Hekate (Reply #3)

Sat May 11, 2019, 01:25 PM

8. also blind to the fact that women invent, create, change the world

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Response to Demovictory9 (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2019, 08:11 AM

4. Fascinating! Thanks! K&R. nt

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Response to Demovictory9 (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2019, 02:40 PM

9. Thank you! So important to know the work women have done, the change they created and lives they led

Had no idea that a woman had brought such fundamental change to housing design. Worth it to read up on her more, too. A Nazi resistor to boot!

Here’s the pic of the restored Frankfurt kitchen.

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Response to suffragette (Reply #9)

Sat May 11, 2019, 05:15 PM

11. beautiful kitchen. Thanks for posting the pic

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Response to Demovictory9 (Reply #11)

Sat May 11, 2019, 05:22 PM

12. She combined function and beauty well. That blue with the slightly warm wood is brilliant, there's

something both uplifting and soothing in the combination.

That row of handled bins would be great scaled differently in a modern kitchen for garbage, recyclables and compost.

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Response to suffragette (Reply #12)

Sat May 11, 2019, 05:37 PM

13. iron board that flops down from the wall..we had that as kids

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Response to Demovictory9 (Reply #13)

Sat May 11, 2019, 06:27 PM

14. My next door neighbors in California had that. It was recessed in the wall, though.

They owned a great Craftsman style house.

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Response to suffragette (Reply #9)

Sat May 11, 2019, 09:32 PM

16. As a former professional cook

the Frankfurt kitchen is far preferable to the modern suburban style. It's much more efficient in movement and reach. If you are cooking most every meal for yourself and one or two others, using the average modern suburban kitchen is a pain with a lot of wasted space.

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Response to misanthrope (Reply #16)

Sat May 11, 2019, 11:25 PM

17. It certainly does look efficient. Thanks for sharing your expertise and view.

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