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  • Writer's pictureHarjit Garcha

International Women's Day 2020

Today is International Women’s Day and it seemed the perfect day to launch our blog since the modern built-in kitchen was created by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, the first female Austrian architect.

Most kitchens that we see today are based on the Frankfurt Kitchen created in 1926.

Prior to this, kitchen design was largely ignored by architects as the kitchen was considered to be a utilitarian space often occupied by servants or lower-class women.

A lack of housing after the First World War prompted architect and city planner, Ernst May to embark on “The New Frankfurt” programme which involved designing a neighbourhood with public housing at low cost. Schütte-Lihotzky was the only female architect on his team and was responsible for designing the Frankfurt Kitchen, which was the first prefabricated kitchen.

Schütte-Lihotzky believed that “women’s struggle for economic independence and personal development meant that rationalisation of housework was an absolute necessity.”

She designed the kitchen based on hygiene, efficiency and workflow theories, including time-motion studies, where she built a prototype and measured with a stopwatch how long it took to do certain tasks.

The Frankfurt kitchen included a revolving stool, a fold-down ironing board, removable bin and labelled aluminium pouring containers for storing staples like flour & sugar. The efficiency of this kitchen design which allowed washing, ironing, cooking and storage in a small space, is the origin of what we know as the fitted kitchen today.

Reference: Counter Space: MoMa

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