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Kitchen choreographies: Homes, things and modern movements
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Umeå Institute of Design.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Umeå Institute of Design.
2016 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Thinking of things in relation to users and use, there is always some kind of action involved in the usage of things (or interaction, as contemporary design would have it): an action that happens in time and over time, and that more often than not involves movement.  This paper investigates how time – seen in relation to the physical dwelling, the objects in it and the people living there, using things – have been the basis for proposing new designs for things and homes, literally new practices of “modern movements”, in the homes of 1940s Sweden.

The home and its’ everyday things and practices has over the years emerged as a research theme  within design history as well as in other disciplines. Relationships between dwelling, architecture and the ideals of modern living manifest in floor plans and city plans have been explored, as have the styles and aesthetics of things and buildings. Relationships between people and everyday things and environments have opened up for research into how things and people reciprocally build both meanings and practices, as well as how design scripts actions and behaviours. Many studies focus on the kitchen: its’ physical design, the objects related to it and – not least – the (mainly women’s’) work and values associated with it. The Frankfurt kitchen in the late 1920s, for example, has become almost a standard example of how ideas of rationality and modernity were brought into the equation of solving problems of low (or non-existent) standards of housing to address issues of economy in planning and building. Such examples also illustrate interests in scripting new behaviour specifically in the kitchen; behaviours that extended also to the home, and on a larger scale to life and society in general within the modern movement.

In the process of forming the Swedish welfare state, ‘the home’ was central both as a metaphor and as an area of reform and rethinking. In parallel to the planning and building of rational housing to address the appalling housing situation in Sweden, there were similar concerns for planning, education and reform of how homes were actually used and inhabited. A focal point came to be the kitchen, where the movements and actions of women were investigated systematically and scientifically with the threefold aim of improving the building standards, finding the best design of kitchen utensils and equipment, and determining the best ways of working, acting and moving around in the kitchen. In this paper, studies of housework and household objects made by the Hemmens Forskningsinstitut (HFI, ‘The Home Research Institute’) in the late 1940s forms the basis of an analysis of the relationships between things in use and users in action, and how notions of rationality and repetition, optimisation of motions and methods, brought from industrial contexts came to define also what makes sense in a home.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016.
Keyword [en]
design history, everyday life, kitchen, time, things
National Category
Design History History of Ideas
Research subject
design
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-129257OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-129257DiVA: diva2:1058905
Conference
Design and Time. Design History Society Conference. Middlesex University, London.
Available from: 2016-12-21 Created: 2016-12-21 Last updated: 2016-12-21

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Göransdotter, Maria
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Citation style
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