Monday, 13 February 2023

Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky's Frankfurt Kitchen

"They thought that I would starve to death. Nobody could imagine hiring a woman to build a house in 1916 — not even myself."

Schütte-Lihotzky (1897-2000) was born in Vienna and became the first female student of the so-called Kunstgewerbeschule, now known as the University of Applied Arts Vienna. As a student she worked on projects on affordable housing for the working class and decided to dedicate her career to reducing some burdens through efficient residential design. In an early project of hers, she designed flats for single, working women. 

When the social housing development programme "New Frankfurt" was launched in the German city of Frankfurt, Schütte-Lihotzky was invited to join - which she did creating her magnum opus, the first fitted kitchen, the "Frankfurt Kitchen" (aged 101, she said: "If I had known that everyone would keep talking about nothing else, I would never have built that damn kitchen!"). With this kitchen she aimed to make life easier for those (mainly women) using it. At the time, kitchens in working-class housing were part of the living room which often also served as a bedroom. The separated kitchen was small but efficient, the efficiency was drawn from kitchens in scientific laboratories and railway cars. The design was also based on interviews with housewives and time-motion studies of their work to reduce the number of steps needed to be taken between different tasks. About 10.000 of these kitchens were built in Frankfurt alone. Later, feminists linked Schütte-Lihotzky with the subjugation of women by the kitchen. Schütte-Lihotzky, however, wanted to reduce the hours and burden of women's unpaid labour at home: 
"I was convinced that the economic independence and self-realization of women would be a common good, and that therefore the further rationalization of household labor was imperative."

Schütte-Lihotzky was an ardent antifascist who joined the resistance against the Nazis. She was imprisoned in 1941 and sentenced to death but was lucky and returned to Vienna after the liberation in 1945 (via).

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photographs of Schütte-Lihotzky in her home via and via and via


  1. fascinating and beautiful

    1. I recently visited her home (the one on the pictures) in Vienna; it has been turned into a museum. Love her taste and ideas and approach and...
      Thanks for dropping by, Kenneth.