The famous Frankfurt Kitchen, considered the design icon of the 1920s, is widely recognized as the first ever fitted kitchen.
Designed by Viennese architect Margarethe Schütte-Lihotzky, the Frankfurt Kitchen was the forerunner of today's modular fitted kitchens. As a basic conceptual idea, the innovative room layout and original features epitomized modernity.
Not only conceived as a prototype, the Frankfurt Kitchen was actually installed in about 15,000 Frankfurt houses and apartments as part of the "New Frankfurt" building project in 1926. And perhaps it is precisely because of that once large number of extant kitchens that so few of them still exist today. Unfortunately, the last of these truly significant achievements of modern design are being handled in contradictory ways: While specialists and enthusiasts collect the kitchens—whole or in part—to either restore to original condition or buy and sell for considerable prices, the past decades have seen an untold number of the supposedly obsolete Frankfurt Kitchens simply thrown away, unrecognized or unappreciated. As an everyday home furnishing, the Frankfurt Kitchen is threatening to disappear.
The Library of Frankfurt Kitchens is a project, years in the making, by Frankfurt artist, Laura J Gerlach. What was originally conceived as a photographic series documenting the famous kitchens has gradually developed into an archive, a digital library that not only allows the viewer to “leaf through” the extant examples—both public and private—but also secures for posterity these valuable objects threatened by demolition and destruction.
For this project, extensive research will be carried out to find kitchens that are still intact, primarily in
private spaces, but also in museums and offices, or those built as part of the “New Frankfurt” project,
carried out under head of the housing department, Ernst May, during the 1920’s in Frankfurt.
All of the Frankfurt Kitchens thus documented for this project will be preserved and can be viewed and—a special feature of this project—virtually explored and researched, each individual kitchen opening itself to the viewer in a lifelike fashion. In this way, its fundamental significance for all later "modern" kitchens is made clear:
The subtle interchangeability of the kitchens acts as both the medium and strategy of the photographic presentation, while the serial form aids in the reading and comprehension of the Library of Frankfurt Kitchens. The modularity of this reform approach to the "kitchen as a workplace" becomes quite conspicuous: in the wide variety of forms and colors, depending upon the size of the room and floor plan, in relation to the respective personal use and wear and tear, and—when not in the original condition—in their subsequent alterations. The pictorial aesthetic is thus defined by the atmospheric moment—in the light, coloring, traces of use, and individual decoration.
See also: Margarete "Grete" Schütte-Lihotzky (January 23, 1897 in Margareten bei Wien, Austria-Hungary – January 18, 2000) was the first female Austrian architect and a communist activist in the German resistance to Nazism. She is mostly remembered today for designing what is known as the Frankfurt kitchen. [From: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13:47, Februar 25, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Margarete_Sch%C3%BCtte-Lihotzky&oldid=942003257 ]
Copyright of all content: © Laura J Gerlach, all rights reserved
Conceptual advice: Daniel Henschel | www.feinkorn.de
Web programming: Manuel Rossner | www.manuelrossner.com; Dennis Jonda | www.dennisjonda.de
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2018, Wien, die angewandte, im Rahmen des Symposiums „Architektur. Politik. Geschlecht.“
2019, Frankfurt am Main, Museum Angewandte Kunst, „Moderne am Main“ https://www.museumangewandtekunst.de/de/besuch/ausstellungen/2019/moderne-am-main/
2019, Frankfurt am Main, Historisches Museum Frankfurt, „Wie wohnen die Leute?“ https://www.historisches-museum-frankfurt.de/de/stadtlabor/wie-wohnen-die-leute
2020, Zürich, Kunsthaus Zürich, „Schall und Rauch. Die wilden 20er“ https://www.kunsthaus.ch/besuch-planen/ausstellungen/schall-und-rauch-20er/
2021, Bilbao, Gugeenheim Bilbao, „Los locos anos veinte“ https://www.guggenheim-bilbao.eus/exposiciones/los-locos-anos-veinte
2022/2023 Frankfurt, Ernst-May-Gesellschaft im Schaulager https://ernst-may-gesellschaft.de
25.3.–22.10.2023, Gießen, Oberhessisches Museum, „Made in Hessen. Globale Industriekultur“ https://www.giessen.de/Erleben/Kultur/Museen-Ausstellungen/Oberhessisches-Museum/Museum/
3.11.2023–12.5.2024, Rüsselsheim, Stadt- und Industriemuseum, „Made in Hessen. Globale Industriekultur“ https://www.museum-ruesselsheim.de/
25.5.2024–25.8.2024, Borken, Hessisches Braunkohle Bergbaumuseum, „Made in Hessen. Globale Industriekultur“ https://www.braunkohle-bergbaumuseum.de/
15.9.2024–16.2.2025, Offenbach, Haus der Stadtgeschichte, „Made in Hessen. Globale Industriekultur“ https://www.offenbach.de/microsite/haus_der_stadtgeschichte/index.php
Laura J Gerlach lives as an independent artist and photographer in Frankfurt am Main.
Her photographic subjects are almost exclusively documentary and serial, dealing with space and atmosphere.
The interior serves as a narrative medium and circumstantial memory. The series THE LIBRARY OF FRANKFURT KITCHENS is a long-term project Gerlach has been working on since 2010. The disappearing style icon is to be
permanently preserved for posterity and made accessible in the medium of digital photography regardless of
location - in (museum) presentations, for research and publications.
Museal inquiries/inquiriries for exhibitions and purchases please email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The art project
THE LIBRARY OF FRANKFURT KITCHENS
is currently on display as part of the exhibition
Made in Hessen. Globale Industriegeschichten
March 25, 2023 to October 22, 2023 Oberhessisches Museum Gießen
November 3, 2023 to May 12, 2024 Stadt- und Industriemuseum Rüsselsheim
May 25, 2024 to August 25, 2024 Hessisches Braunkohle Bergbaumuseum, Borken
September 15, 2024 to February 16, 2025 Haus der Stadtgeschichte, Offenbach