Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky and the Frankfurt kitchen #Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky
Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky has gone down in the history of modern architecture and design as the author of the well-known “Frankfurt kitchen”, an early example of a rationalist methodology, a scientific approach and a reformist will in interior design. During her long life, she worked on the design of housing and facilities all over the world, including Austria, Germany, the USSR, China, Japan, Turkey, or Cuba, she participated in several CIAM congresses and received numerous distinctions.
Grete Lihotzky was the first woman to graduate in architecture in Austria, earning her degree in 1918 at the School of Applied Arts under the tutelage of Henrich Tessenow. Especially interested in social housing, she worked from 1921 at the Vienna Housing Secretariat, headed by Adolf Loos. In 1926 she joined Ernst May‘s team, commissioned with the design of the New Frankfurt, an ambitious urban programme with special emphasis on working-class housing.
Schütte-Lihotzky was responsible for the design of the kitchens, starting from numerous interviews to housewives and a scientific study on the rationalization of domestic work, based on the minimization of displacement and the provision of minimum standards. With this, she sought to reduce domestic work to free time and facilitate the incorporation of women into the labour market.
The result was a kitchen of minimal dimensions, but rational and efficient, with a continuous work surface of uniform height, smooth and easy-to-clean surfaces, modular storage units, materials chosen according to their function and a whole series of technological improvements, such as gas stove or a fold-down ironing board.
The “Frankfurt kitchen” was displayed at the 1927 Stuttgart housing exhibition, curated by Lilly Reich, and around 10,000 units were produced. This kitchen represents the antecedent of all fitted kitchens to date and an unavoidable milestone in the history of design.