The kitchen set has become such a familiar part of the interior.that might seem like it has been in homes for centuries. Meanwhile, the modern kitchen as we know it is less than a hundred years old - that is, it is not much older than a TV and younger than an electric refrigerator - and its design was based on both simple considerations of convenience and the idea of freeing women from endless domestic hard labor. The authorship of this epoch-making invention belongs to an equally outstanding woman - Margarete Schütte-Lichotzki.
When in 1918 Greta Lichotzky decided to enter the Vienna School of Applied Arts, her choice surprised even liberal parents. “Everyone discouraged me from becoming an architect. Everyone: my teacher Oskar Shtrnad, father and grandfather. Not because they were hostile, of course not. We were just sure that with this profession I would starve. Moreover, at that time it was unthinkable even to think that a woman could be involved in the construction of houses,”recalled Likhotski, who became the first woman architect in the history of Austria.
The front of work for her, however, was found: in the mid-twenties in post-war Frankfurt am Main, a project was launched to build inexpensive and affordable housing in the working-class district of Remerstadt. Margareta, who arrived in the city at the invitation of the architect Ernst May, was asked to design a kitchen for the houses of the future - perhaps, there were stereotypes here too. This has its own irony: Likhotski claimed that by her then twenty-eight years she had never stood at the stove. But she was armed with the ideas of the theorist of production optimization Frederick Taylor. Thanks to them, the foremother of today's cuisine as an indivisible and compact whole - the Frankfurt cuisine - appeared.
Remembering the three K formula of gender slavery “Kinder, Küche, Kirche” (“children, kitchen, church”), which was sold in Germany during the Bismarck era, it is worth considering that the kitchen of that time occupied a much larger place in everyday life. It was a space where they not only cooked, but also dined, washed and often slept, thus the woman found herself almost literally locked in the kitchen - she simply did not have enough time for anything else, a significant part of which was spent rushing between the sinks scattered around the house., stove and cupboards for dishes and products.
Likhotski came to a simple and elegant conclusion: throw out everything that has nothing to do with it from the kitchen (including for reasons of hygiene), and seal the rest as much as possible. Having measured the senseless running in seconds and meters, she calculated that everything needed for cooking could be collected in a room with an area of six and a half square meters.
The laconic design was in line with the principles of economy, but the innovations invented by Likhotski were not limited only to size. In her kitchen, everything was thought out, right down to the choice of materials: the countertops were made of durable beech, containers for storing bulk products made of oak (protection against pest beetles), a cooker hood (another Lichotzky's know-how), a sink and a drip tray from the washed dishes - made of metal. The original Frankfurt cuisine was painted in the unusual for today's eyes, spoiled by Scandinavian whiteness, blue-green and light gray colors - also for practical reasons: such shades were believed to scare off flies.
In an effort to minimize movement in the kitchen, Likhotski installed a swivel chair with an adjustable seat height in it, and also installed sliding transparent doors, thanks to which it was possible to observe the children from the kitchen in the next room.
The original design of the Frankfurt cuisine was criticized by contemporaries for design flaws: only one person could cook in it, and children reached out to small drawers (later these drawers, nicknamed "shuttenki", were a thing of the past). But even then it was clear that Likhotski created a revolution by rethinking that part of the house that her predecessors did not notice at close range. She created the kitchen of the future - a fundamentally gas-electric one (there is no longer a coal stove in it) - and this is the rare case when innovations were thought out so far-sightedly that they have survived to this day almost unchanged. The only noticeable exception was the appearance of the refrigerator, which came into use after the Second World War.
Likhotski, who designed her kitchen "as an architect, not as a housewife," considered the house to be an "organization of life habits" of a person. Its development did not just save time - it also changed the daily routine and, as a result, self-awareness: the kitchen was no longer a prison cell.
A social, human-centered approach will be traced in her other projects (and, for that matter, not only in architectural design: during the Second World War she joined the Resistance, which is why she spent four years in a Nazi prison), although they will inevitably remain in the shadow of her main invention. "If I had known that [in the interview] I would not be asked about anything else, I would never have built this damn kitchen!" she complained on her hundredth birthday.
Photos: Ozon, clippings