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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Frankfurt Kitchen

Margarete (Grete) Schütte-Lihotzky (1897-2000) was born in Vienna, Austria. She studied architecture under Josef Hoffman and Heinrich Tessenow and later worked with Adolf Loos and Ernst May.

She is best known for designing the Frankfurt Kitchen while working with May on a project for the Frankfurt Municipal Housing Department. Her design was used in 10,000 flats in the late 1920s. It was an architectural milestone because it was the first low cost, unified kitchen design and the forerunner of the modern kitchen. It resulted from a time-motion study of food preparation and other household chores, as well as interviews with housewives and womens' groups.

This was the first time that the kitchen had been designed as a separate room. In the past, the kitchen was simply part of a large living area where people cooked, ate and even bathed. The Frankfurt Kitchen required none of the traditional kitchen furniture and could be prefabricated to cut construction costs.

It was designed using modern theories about efficiency, hygiene and workflow and incorporated design elements from laboratories and factories. Schütte-Lihotzky's goal was to reduce unnecessary movement and make household chores easier for the modern woman and give her more time to pursue other activities.

Each mass-produced Frankfurt kitchen was separated from the living room with a sliding door and had a swivel stool, a gas stove, a fold-out ironing board, an adjustable ceiling light and a removable garbage drawer. Built-in aluminum storage bins were designed for storing and pouring staples such as sugar and rice. Specific materials were chosen for their special functions, such as oak flour canisters to repel mealworms and beech cutting surfaces to resist staining and knife marks.

From, and

Storage bins


  1. Neat! I love the look of the third one. I suppose you'd have to be a pretty tidy cook for it to work at its most efficient, though.

  2. @Reduce, Reuse and Rummage: The third one is my favorite color combination too. By today's standards, we'd cringe at that little counterspace, but when you think about kitchens before that being part of an open living space, I'm sure it was great to have a dedicated kitchen with all those gadgets. I'd love to have those built-in storage bins in my kitchen today!

  3. i love how cosy every kitchen is..having lived in tiny homes all my life..i m sure i appreciate the whole thought which she seems to have put in...and my! in the 20's ..she was definitely way ahead of her times

  4. and..oh..i forgot to mention the tiny aluminum bins integrated into the design..classy

  5. @Sudha: I'm amazed too at the amount of research and testing that went into her design to make sure that everything was as efficient and ergonomically correct as it was. And those bins are my favorite thing about the kitchens!

  6. Just discovered your COOL & intelligent(thank you)Blog.
    LOVING IT! Followed 90% link for the much coveted Bins but alas no where to be found,did I misunderstand? Are they still being manufactured somewhere on this(fab.)planet? HELP.....

    1. Here is the full link:

      I don't know for sure, but I'd guess that the only place you can find the bins is in a museum.