British architects put women in the kitchen, British women architects get mad

Fridgidaire kitchen of the future, 1957
CC BY 1.0 Fridgidaire kitchen of the future, 1957/ James Vaughan on Flickr

More proof that some things never change.

A few years ago I took a lot of abuse from readers for writing about kitchens:

Kitchen design, like every other kind of design, is not just about how things look; it is political. It is social. In kitchen design, it is all about the role of women in society. You can't look at kitchen design without looking at sexual politics.

Now the Royal Institute of British Architects has learned the hard way that sexual politics still matter in the kitchen. According to the Architects' Journal, they had organized an event for International Women's Day:

RIBA London are delighted to be celebrating women in architecture by hosting a special brunch event at Bulthaup [a very high end kitchen company] in Mayfair. This event will be a great opportunity for you to drop-in for networking... Home Economist Sarah Gardiner will also deliver a useful presentation on how to prepare quick and healthy meals for a busy working family.

women in kitchenWomen in kitchen, 1952/ James Vaughan on flickr/CC BY 2.0

At least fifty architects, both men and women, were outraged:

We would like to express our most heartfelt disappointment in the RIBA endorsement of kitchens, family well-being and healthy eating as a general female prerogative, and one that is of particular relevance to women's professional advancement in architecture. These twin notions are pervasive in work places and wider society, and continue to undermine women's authority at work, their job security, pay, and their mental and physical health....

It's our view that this retrograde event is damaging to the RIBA's standing among its members, to women in architecture, and to architects of both sexes raising a family. We urge you to consider a redress before this event takes place.

The RIBA responded: "‘This event has been cancelled in light of the valid concerns that have been raised. We will be looking into what lessons can be learnt."

In a wonderful article in Eater that I covered in TreeHugger, Rose Evereth wrote:

Today's homes of the future are full of incredible ideas and gizmos, but while designers seems happy to extrapolate far beyond what we can do today when it comes to battery life or touch screens, they can't seem to wrap their minds around any changes happening culturally. In a future kitchen full of incredible technology, why can we still not imagine anything more interesting than a woman making dinner alone?

Clearly, not.

British architects put women in the kitchen, British women architects get mad
More proof that some things never change.

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