Is It Time To Rethink the Built-In Kitchen?


image credit Kanz Outdoors

Tina Roth Eisenberg, the Swiss Miss, shows a field kitchen from Kanz Outdoors and thinks it would come in really handy while she renovates her apartment. But one has to consider whether this kind of kitchen design doesn't make sense all the time, whether we haven't got carried away with our built-in kitchens. There is something appealing about a kitchen design that just folds up when you don't need it, and doesn't take up a lot of space.


Image credit Wikipedia

Until a hundred years ago, nobody really had fitted kitchens as we know them; they had stoves and iceboxes, but everything else was kept in pantries or cupboards, and work was done on a table in the middle; this is a Poggenpohl kitchen from 1892.


Frankfurt kitchen image via MoMA

Then the fitted kitchen was invented by Christine Frederick and the famous Frankfurt Kitchen, was designed by Grete Schütte-Lihotzky and the rest is history- kitchens became fixed and stuck to the wall. Then they just grew, got islands in the middle again, and even separate pantries because there were not enough cupboards. As Suzanne LaBarre noted in Fast Company,

Kitchens kept expanding -- and so did the amount of junk inside them. New products were supposed to make life easier on housewives, but often they had the opposite effect; more stuff just meant more upkeep.

Enough already. As Mark Bittman has noted, all you really need is "A stove, a sink, a refrigerator, some pots and pans, a knife and some serving spoons. All else is optional." And he cooks a lot.


Image credit Lloyd Alter

There are some signs of change; At ICFF there were some signs of experimentation, like this kitchen from Naber in Germany, with freestanding kitchen units.


LaPorte County Historical Society Museum

During World War II a lot of houses near factories were broken up into smaller apartments, and units like this were developed that included fridges, stoves and sinks. Versions are still made; IKEA even sells one. Given the way people cook these days, particularly those who live alone in small apartments, I can't help wondering whether it wouldn't be better to have units like these built in, and do everything else, the storage and work surfaces, as movable, foldable and portable units.


Image credit Kanz Outdoors

Perhaps even a completely folding, put-it-away field kitchen in the closet.

More on compact kitchens:
LifeEdited: What We Can Learn From Camping Equipment
Counter Space: How The Modern Kitchen Evolved
The Best Small Kitchen Designs for Cooking Large and Living Small
The Kitchen of the Future Today

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