Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tomorrow's Kitchen (1943)

The July 16, 1943 Morning Herald (Uniontown, PA) ran this piece about the kitchen of the future, complete with built-in pots and pans. The kitchen was designed by the Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass company, which may be the same company that imagined the glass house of the year 2008.

A special thanks to Warren for pointing me in the direction of these photos from Life magazine, which inspired me to track down this story. The photo featured at the top of the piece comes from the newspaper article. The rest of the photos are from Life.

It's interesting to compare this vision of the future kitchen with that of 1967. Both are messages from companies wishing to sell a lifestyle of post-war consumerism as much as the products themselves, it seems.

TOLEDO, O. - The "Kitchen of Tomorrow" that does everything but put out the cat at night now makes its debut.

It eliminates pots and pans.

It does away with stooping and squatting.

Sore feet will be only a memory of the sad past—because in this kitchen three-quarters of the "little woman's" work can be done while comfortably seated.

Dishwashing becomes a pleasure and burnt fingers practically impossible to acquire.

And, in the vernacular—that is not the half of it!

Between meal times and without the help of a magic wand the kitchen can almost instantly be transformed into a gaily-decorated play-room for the children.

In the evening, it changes into a buffet bar.

With a minimum of effort it converts to extra living space—with all of the familiar kitchen '"gadgets" and appliances buried from sight.

Designed by the Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Company to help point the way toward more practical and gracious living in the post-war era, the kitchen has an "all this and heaven, too" theme developed by the use of easily obtained and familiar materials worked into new shapes and forms.

Sliding panels cover the sink, cooking unit and automatic food mixer, so when not in use these units become part of a long buffet—ready for use as a study bench for the children or a bar for dad.

An "out of this world" refrigerator of glass construction has four times the capacity of today's model. Built on the principle of the cold storage locker, it is separated into compartments, each with an individual temperature control. One compartment shelf revolves—so that salads and often-used foods can be placed in it from the kitchen side and removed from the adjoining dining alcove.

The oven has a sliding, heat-tempered glass hood. When the roast is revolving on the motor-driven spit mother can look at it from all angles—and without opening the oven door as of old.

Most of the cooking is done in evolutionary unit one-third the size of the average stove and with built-in pots and pans which double as serving dishes.

All of the kitchen equipment has been raised to an easy working level and the space ordinarily cluttered with storage bins and cabinets has been left free to provide room for the housewife's knees.

Storage cabinets gain a new grace by being hung on the wall and equipped with sliding glass doors-no bumped heads!

And not overlooking a thing, H. Creston Doner, designer of the kitchen, turned out a model dining alcove, as a "running mate" for the kitchen. He pointed out that, other than making the ideas of his department available to other designers and manufacturers, his firm's sole interest is to demonstrate some of the decorative and utilitarian advantages of glass.

So that it, too, may be used for extra living space, the dining room sports a plate glass-topped table that folds back against the wall and becomes a mural-—the folding legs forming a frame to the sand-blasted design in the glass.

Read more:
The Future of Glass (1958)
1999 A.D. (1967)
Frigidaire Kitchen of the Future (1957)
Monsanto House of the Future Brochure (1961)
How Experts Think We'll Live in 2000 A.D. (1950)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957)
House of the Future for the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition (1956)


Anonymous said...

The sink, with foot pedals for the water and a low-level light for illuminating the work (but not glaring in the eyes) is great. We put foot pedals in our kitchen (along with normal taps) and they're great when you hands are dirty or full.

The description of the fridge also sounds prescient and ahead of its time - only now are some fridges starting to be mass-produced with separate compartments (or of course you can by separate expensive fridge "drawers" for your cupboards).

In contrast the whole built-in craze is so hard to understand - look, Therm-X has a toaster, mixer, waffle iron, and small heating vat! Wow! So, waffles and toast for dinner, then?

Barry said...

"...or a bar for Dad." Har!

Anonymous said...

Not far from reality today.. I was at Target the other day and I saw built-in coffee makers and toasters for cabinets.

PJPF said...

I'm still waiting for flying cars.

The XXIst century is a scam!

Ps: though think that I once heard that Michael Jackson had bought one, in the nineties :\

Anonymous said...

Obviously whoever designed it was never going to have to clean it.

Anonymous said...

Clean it? The kitchen would be cleaning itself, of course. We are looking into The Future here, where everything will be better and easier as we all know. So easy, in fact, that you'll want to fold your legs and cram them underneath the conveniently placed kitchen equipment. Bruised knees as a memento mori to keep Modern Man grounded...

And they could have thrown in an automatic dishwasher. Why bother with a sink if an appliance can do the work? Would this have been soch an impossible leap for 1967's imagination?

5thprofession47 said...

Wow! What a find. H. Creston Doner was my grandfather. His "Kitchen of Tomorrow" was featured in the June 1944 issue of National Geographic Magazine, IIRC. The kitchen toured the US in 1999 as part of the Smithsonian's traveling exhibit. Grandad died in 1991 but I have been able to track down some of the publications featuring his work online. Thanks for posting this!


Christopher Doner

Anonymous said...

Flying cars are almost here...

Check out the link below:

octopusmagnificens said...

Beautiful woman.

Anonymous said...

I find it quite odd that two items so utterly commonplace in modern kitchens, the automatic dishwasher and the microwave oven, are conspicuously absent from "kitchens of the future" presentations, even as late as the 1950s - by which time both items had already been invented.