Believe it or not, fitted kitchens, in which all components fit together as opposed to standing alone, are a relatively new phenomenon. The first fitted kitchen was designed in 1926 in Frankfurt, Germany, by Austrian architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky. While most modern kitchen designs are tailored towards comfort and visual appeal, the Frankfurt Kitchen was built with the pure intention of functionality and necessity.
Every component of the kitchen was meticulously designed for utilitarian efficiency - the narrow space minimizing the amount of steps needing to be taken, doors and cabinets painted blue to deter flies, and flour containers made of oak wood to repel mealworms. Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky focused these details around her goal of making the kitchen as efficient, if not more than the factories that her male counterparts worked in. She created the kitchen to be aligned with the ideas of Taylorism, which was a trend that shifted the view of domestic work and promoted it as being a true profession.
This modern kitchen on the left, designed by the owners of British design company Ochre, has a strikingly similar layout to the Frankfurt Kitchen, yet is used in a much different way. The big window over the sink is a source of light as opposed to a safety measure that ensured proper ventilation. Modern appliances replace the pull-down ironing board. The fly-repellent blue cabinets are updated with a more visually appealing and sleek finish, standing underneath a beautiful marble countertop and backsplash. These elements maintain efficiency, but also create a welcoming space for cooking, eating, and socializing. It is amazing to consider how drastically kitchen design has evolved, yet still remains true to Schütte-Lihotzky’s revolutionary design of the Frankfurt Kitchen that came to light almost a century ago.