04 February 2011

Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen

I took the day off today, and set out for the MoMA bright and early for some much-needed inspiration. I didn't know what I would find, really, as I haven't been great at reading my member emails. The most delightful surprise was an exhibit that's been around for around 4 months, called Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen.

Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen @ MoMA

In their words:
Over the course of the past century no other room has been the focus of such intensive aesthetic and technological innovation, or as loaded with cultural significance. Kitchen design has been both a central concern of modernism and fundamental to our concept of modern life. Drawn entirely from MoMA’s collection, this exhibition explores the twentieth-century transformation of the kitchen as a barometer of changing technologies, aesthetics, and ideologies.
I read this description after walking around for a bit, and found that I'm definitely not alone in my fascination with kitchens. I don't do a ton of cooking, though I love the idea of it and always plan to do more. I always love kitchen-related gifts the most (you should have seen me when I opened a wine foil cutter at Christmas), love kitchen-related photography, and always daydream when I apartment-hunt that I'll find one with a window to filter Saturday morning sunlight in as I make tea. Not sure why, the way I frame kitchens in my head... it's almost like peering into a dollhouse.

Anyway, the exhibit. What a delight. There were rotating models of 70s modular kitchens, movie stills from the 50s, a plastic food collection from Japan, old appliances, historical photographs and ads (I noticed one on loan from DDB's archive, how cool is that), kitchen efficiency books, and a ton of stuff about the "Frankfurt Kitchen," which was part of a movement in 20s Germany relating to egalitarianism. Here are some pictures I took with my phone (why I didn't bring my camera today, I have no idea) --

Irving Penn's egg
This is an Irving Penn photo. I recently found out that he shot the first Clinique print ads, in the 1960s. Cool, no?

Vintage GE ad
I have worked with GE for quite some time, so this was far out and awesome to see.

Gravity-defying breakfast
This was the first thing I saw when I walked in. Looking closely revealed old egg shells in the egg cups and cigarettes in the ashtray.

I also saw this thing – and I'm really annoyed that I didn't take a picture of it – that looked like a small bicycle wheel. I knew was it was before I even read the plaque: it was a cake slicer. My head blew up a little, because I've throughout my life always remembered this Betty Boop cartoon that features her inventor-friend, Grampy, opening an umbrella skeleton and pushing it down onto a cake to slice it instantly. I always thought that was so cool, and I can't believe it's actually a thing that existed once. Why don't I ever see those now? It seems like the most efficient way to do things, ever.

Anyway. I recommend paying this exhibit a visit if you're in the area and this sounds remotely interesting to you. Here is the exhibit site (there is a blog, too!). Also a few more pictures with commentary in this Flickr set.
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