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Back To The Future: 8 Futuristic Kitchen Gadgets From The 20th Century

One of the several segments of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) historical look at 20th century kitchens is its collection for Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen.  Here, we find designs for the kitchens of the future from the avant-guarde of the last century, which still have relevance and style for today's kitchens... But where are they?

Take this kitchen Solar Cooker for example...

 

1. Solnar Tarcici Collapsible Solar Cooker, Dr. Adnan Tarcici, 1970

Hmm.  A solar cooker for the 1970's?  Someone saw global warming coming.  This collapsible cooker is 21" x 34" x 43" when open.  Dr. Tarcici, a Yemenite, born in Lebanon in 1918, manufactured the cooker himself and made a gift of this cooker to MoMA.

 

Solnar Tarcici Collapsible Solar Cooker by Dr. Adnan Tarcici, 1970: © 1970, part of the MoMA collection, image via MoMA.orgSolnar Tarcici Collapsible Solar Cooker by Dr. Adnan Tarcici, 1970: © 1970, part of the MoMA collection, image via MoMA.org

 

2. Cookie Cutters, Unknown Designer and Nationality, 1940

The Cookie Cutters are made of tin and make a square containing six cutters, each cutter itself being a 3.125 inch square.

 

Cookie Cutters designed in 1940, designer unknown: © 1940, part of the MoMA collection, image via MoMA.orgCookie Cutters designed in 1940, designer unknown: © 1940, part of the MoMA collection, image via MoMA.org

 

3. 12-Cut Pie Cutter, Unknown Designer, 1950's

While Americans typically eat pie slices that are at least an eighth of a pie, the 12-Cut Pie Cutter is more along the lines of what we should be eating.  Unfortunately, the creator of this ingenious slicer did not leave his mark on the the Pie Cutter, but it is known that it was made and purchased from (an unknown) Italian manufacturer by MoMA.

 

 12-Cut Pie Cutter, Designer Unknown, 1950's: © MoMA, part of the MoMA collection, image via MoMA.org12-Cut Pie Cutter, Designer Unknown, 1950's: © MoMA, part of the MoMA collection, image via MoMA.org

 

4. Spazio Vivo (Living Space) by Virgillo Forchaiassin, 1968

Would this design not be suitable for the 2008 Electrolux Kitchen Design Competition to meet projected needs for 2050, when 75 percent of the world's population is projected to live in or near cities with cramped living quarters?  Fochaiassin really did see the future back in 1968. Materials used were steel, plastic lamiate, and plywood. Manufactured by Snaidero, Italy. A gift to MoMA from the manufacturer.

 

Spazio Vivo (Living Space) by Virgillo Forchaiassin, 1968: © 1968, part of the MoMA collection, image via MoMA.orgSpazio Vivo (Living Space) by Virgillo Forchaiassin, 1968: © 1968, part of the MoMA collection, image via MoMA.org

 

5. Water Kettle, Peter Schlumbohm, 1949

Schlumbohm, an American born in Germany, designed kitchen items in glass and natural materials, such as cork, wood, and leather.  His creations were manufactured by Chemex Corporation, and some of them are still available.  This clever Water Kettle doesn't depend on a whistle, but a popping cork to let you know when the water is hot.  This member of MoMA's futuristic kitchen designs was a gift from Chemex.

 

Water Kettle by Peter Schlumbohm, 1949: © 1949, part of the MoMA collection, image via MoMA.orgWater Kettle by Peter Schlumbohm, 1949: © 1949, part of the MoMA collection, image via MoMA.org

 

6. Tea Kettle, Trace and Warner, 1939

Speaking of kettles, wouldn't you love to have this trace aluminum kettle in your kitchen?  So modern!  This American design was manufactured by Club Aluminum Products Co, and was a gift from the manufacturer to MoMA.

 

Tea Kettle, Trace and Warner, 1939: © 1939, part of the MoMA collection, image via MoMA.orgTea Kettle, Trace and Warner, 1939: © 1939, part of the MoMA collection, image via MoMA.org

 

7.  Tea Cart (model B54), Marcel Breuer, 1928

Was this 3-wheeled Tea Cart a precursor of the 1950's 4-wheeled tea cart?  Probably, but it is certainly far more interesting from a design perspective.  Breuer, an American born in Hungary, used bent nickle-plated tubular steel, wood, and linoleum.  It was manufactured by Gebruder Thonet, Vienna.  This was a gift to MoMA from the Estée Lauder and Joseph Lauder Design Fund.

 

 Tea Cart (model B54), Marcel Breuer, 1928: © 1928, part of the MoMA collection, image via MoMA.orgTea Cart (model B54), Marcel Breuer, 1928: © 1928, part of the MoMA collection, image via MoMA.org

 

Tea Cart (model B54), Marcel Breuer, 1928: © 1928, part of the MoMA collection, image via MoMA.orgTea Cart (model B54), Marcel Breuer, 1928: © 1928, part of the MoMA collection, image via MoMA.org

 

8. Grow Your Own Food, Abram Games, 1942

This photo-lithograph doesn't qualify as a kitchen gadget, but I'm including it just to show how forward-thinking designers were in the mid 20th century.  Published in 1942, Grow Your Own Food, by British artist Abram Games, created a simple but elegant way to express "from the ground to the table," don't you think?  This gift to MoMA was made from Mrs. John Carter.

 

Grow Your Own Food, Abram Games, 1942: © 1942, part of the MoMA collection, image via MoMA.orgGrow Your Own Food, Abram Games, 1942: © 1942, part of the MoMA collection, image via MoMA.org

 

Find more photos of MoMA's Selected works from Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen, and see them as well as even more designs in person at MoMA's 20th Century Kitchen Designs from 1921 to 1995.  The exhibit will continue at the museum until March 14, 2011. (Update: This is no longer available.)

Also, see the Revolutionary Kitchen Design That Furthered Equality For Women, an inspiring design created in 1921, appearing at the MoMA exhibit.