On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to attend a press preview for “Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen,” an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art that showcases the evolution of the modern kitchen, as well as its social, political, economic implications and impact.
The centerpiece of the show is an installation of the Frankfurt Kitchen, which was designed in 1926-27 by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky as an attempt to increase the kitchen’s functionality and efficiency, thus reducing the amount of time women spent working there. Ergonomic and compact, Schütte-Lihotzky’s design was part of a larger plan to modernize the city and was incorporated into public housing built around Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany.
The Frankfurt Kitchen results from an effort to “rationalize” the kitchen by perhaps breaking it down into its core tasks and then redesigning it in a way that, say, minimizes the amount of steps needed to accomplish each one. Compact, it features a lot of built-in elements, such as a waste receptacle placed conveniently to the side of the main prep surface, an array of compartments above the cooktop for storing condiments and a series of drawers for keeping flour and other cooking staples within easy reach. Apparently, the drawers were a little too accessible and had to be installed higher to prevent children from playing with them.
For me, the words “rationalize” and “rational” are of particular interest, as they seem to connote a lack of emotion, which seems to be the antithesis of the room that we typically call “the heart of the home.” The words are additionally significant given the changes in gender roles. We’ve certainly come a long way.
But there’s more to “Counter Space” than the Frankfurt installation. Nearly 300 works culled from the museum’s vast collections of photography, art, product design, films and media are also on display, adding color, interest, political and social commentary, as well as humor. These include a few brightly colored Vola kitchen faucets designed by Arne Jacobsen and Spazio Vivo, a heavily hinged multicomponent Snaidero kitchen from 1968.
Although the name of the exhibit makes some sense, as one journalist pointed out, the show offers little, if anything, on what countertops and counter space, which have become invaluable in today’s kitchens. Interestingly enough, though, it is being sponsored Silestone by Cosentino.
The exhibit runs through March 14, 2011.
This entry was posted on Thursday, September 16th, 2010 at 6:00 AM and is filed under Inspiration, Kitchen Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.