For Foodies and Designers: A New Art

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GE was just one of many corporations that tried to help the female consumer with household duties. Swell, beautifully designed meals were the order of the day. Of course the day (or year) was 1937; America was still strangled by the Great Depression. Manufacture and consumption were barely inching their way upward, but not everyone could afford the state-of-the-art kitchen below.

The sponsor of this cookbook was the General Electric Kitchen Institute, located in Cleveland, Ohio, in Nela Park. The activities of the Institute were devoted to making the home a more enjoyable place to live and work. Part real and part dream, electricity could make life a breeze, as long as one had the money to pay for it.

Electricity has made possible many new and better methods of kitchen management and it is the purpose of the institute to study, develop and perfect these methods and to show you how best to use them.

Modern kitchens have electric refrigeration for preservation of foods and cold cookery—electric ranges for better cooking and baking—electric dishwashers to wash and dry the dishes—and many other electrical appliances that General Electric has developed to aid the flow of kitchen work.

This was an age when home economics worked hand-in-glove with home design. “Scientific” home design equaled efficiency, productivity and ease—as well as a rosy outlook during difficult times.

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →