In the late 1920s, approximately ten thousand kitchens designed by Schütte-Lihotzky were at the core of a far-reaching program to modernize public housing and infrastructure in Frankfurt. Inflation and war had precipitated a housing crisis in all major German cities. Under the direction of chief city architect Ernst May, the so-called New Frankfurt became a testing ground for modern architectural forms, new materials, and innovative construction methods.
The Frankfurt Kitchen was designed like a laboratory or factory and in accordance with contemporary theories of efficiency, hygiene, and workflow. Schütte-Lihotzky’s primary goal was to reduce the burden of women’s labor in the home. In planning the design, she conducted detailed time-motion studies and interviews with housewives and women’s groups. Each kitchen came with a revolving stool, a gas stove, built-in storage, a foldaway ironing board, an adjustable ceiling light, and a removable garbage drawer. Labeled aluminum storage bins were provided for staples like sugar and rice, and they were designed with spouts for easy pouring. Careful thought was given to the choice of materials: oak was used for flour containers (to repel mealworms) and beech for cutting surfaces (to resist staining and knife marks). The result is one of modernism’s most famous cooking spaces.
Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)