Sunday, February 13, 2011

A short history of food-related matters: the Frankfurt Kitchen

I love going to museums. Good thing I live in Berlin where there are plenty to choose from. A museum which somehow managed to escape my attention is the "Museum der Dinge" - that is "the Museum of Things". What "things"? you might ask - paintings, sculptures, cars? None of the above and yet a little of everything. The Museum of things is a museum of 20th century product culture. It comprises the archive of the Deutscher Werkbund, an association of designers, architects and artists established in 1907. It was meant to function as an institution bringing together designers and manufactures of every-day products. It also tried to educate people on things both functional and in style. For this purpose, they selected examples of the prodcut in question, put them in so called Werkbund-boxes (see first pircture below) which teachers could borrow in order to discuss the products' use and style in class. I am somewhat sceptical about being able to teach  'good style' which I think should remain the individual's choice. Heck, if I look through photos of myself during the last 15 years, there certainly were a fair amount of style-desasters, but looking back, I think I needed those in order to find my style. 
And yet, the Werkbund had an excellent eye for great design, awarding the best cutlery, tea pots, bowls etc. every year. If you come from a family of collectors, you will immeadiately feel at home at the museum with its maze-like aisles full of china, cutlery, glasses, etc. Especially if you grew up in Germany, you will  also recognize many of the every-day prodcuts on display from the last 100 years.

The most interesting "thing" in the museum however, especially if you are a foodie, is the "Frankfurter Küche"- the Frankfurt kitchen: Designed in 1926 by Austrian designer/architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky (what a cool name by the way), it used to be the state of the art kitchen in the 1920s. Kitchens which used to be the center of every house and apartment were now being outsourced to a special room, where only the cooking and preparing was done. The kitchen turned into a functional room and was no longer condsidered to be a living room, where families spent most of their time and also took their meals. 
The Frankfurt kitchen was both plain in design (you will be very much reminded of the famous Bauhaus school when you walk through the museum) and ultimately functional: tests had been made to see which working stations should be placed where. According to the movements the good German housewife made and the ways she went from the sink to the living room, back into the kitchen, to the sink again, then to the dust bin, to the stove, to the sink and back to the dustbin, the kitchen was designed in order to faciliate the work as much as possible. 
The kitchen had standardized measurements and modules and was built into about 10 000 apartments and houses in Frankfurt.Up until today, its influences can be seen in German kitchen design.

 copyrigth of all photos j.

Now there is only one thing left to say: Go visit the Museum of things! I deeply recommend taking a guided tour, as you easily get overwhelmed by the thousand and thousand things on display!

Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge
Oranienstraße 25
D-10999 Berlin

1 comment:

  1. I love frankfurter with chili, smoky bacon, and grilled onions was delicious. I actually ate 4 Frankfurt sandwich when I was in London. The kitchen is clean and organized in settings.