Thursday, 2 April 2015

Kitchen Politics

Join MoDA's Curator Sim Panaser in the kitchen....

This week the general election campaigns have begun with a vengeance, we've heard fighting talk, sound bites and the occasional policy issue thrown in for good measure. 

The photo-op, a vital tool in every party’s election arsenal provokes strong responses.  And this year politicians in kitchens seem to be a thing.  From the scrutiny surrounding Ed Miliband’s kitchenette to David Cameron’s announcement that he doesn't want to stand for a third term, which was accompanied by photographs of him in the kitchen of his constituency home.  It appears the kitchen is where politicians want to be seen and heard. 

Considered the heart of the home, the kitchen is seen as nourishing and warm together with being commonplace, whilst not everyone has a dining room in the main they will have a kitchen or kitchenette.  The kitchen is a highly charged space.  It is aspirational, we are sold dream kitchens and kitchens reportedly increase the value of homes.  It is a space for family and friends, eating, entertaining, domesticity and at times drudgery.

Here at the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture we have a collection of books and ephemera on kitchen design dating from 1930s to 1970s.  From labour saving to saving face, these designs demonstrate the minutia of detail which according to manufacturers and taste-makers needed to be considered when designing a kitchen.

Watch Your Step, Kitchen Planning circa 1945, BADDA 4226, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture

In the illustrations below, the kitchen appears to be the domain of the female.  Much of post-war kitchen design was marketed as improving conditions for women, a more efficient kitchen purported to an increased leisure time for women.  The kitchens depicted below also appear sparse, nearly everything is packed away into cupboards, leaving work surfaces clear and ready for action. In the 1940s and 1950s the kitchen hatch connected the kitchen to the dining area, enabling food to be presented without witness to the cooking or being taken to the table. 

A place for everything and everything has its place, BADDA 4677, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture

Kitchen Dining Room in a Family Flat, BADDA, 4226, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture 

1940s Service Hatch in Choose Your Kitchen by Adie Ballantyne, BADDA 4563, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture

Today kitchens are seen very much part of leisure time, we like to cook or at least buy cookery books. We leave things out and 'on show'.  The kitchen is both private and public and perhaps the room that people can most readily identify with, from a place where we make a cup of tea after a long day to entertaining from the ever desirable kitchen island, it is both a space to relax and to perform. Maybe this is why politicians have taken to their kitchens to communicate their message and why the analysis of their kitchens has garnered so much attention.

Please get in touch with us if you would like further information on our collections or to view our collection of books and ephemera related to design for the home.  We welcome visits from groups and individuals and look forward to seeing you!      

For collection enquiries or to book an appointment to visit MoDA's Collections Centre please email 

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