Domestic (or residential) kitchen design is a relatively recent discipline. The first ideas to optimize the work in the kitchen go back to Catharine Beecher’s A Treatise on Domestic Economy (1843, revised and republished together with her sister Harriet Beecher Stowe as The American Woman’s Home in 1869). Beecher’s “model kitchen” propagated for the first time a systematic design based on early ergonomics. The design included regular shelves on the walls, ample work space, and dedicated storage areas for various food items. Beecher even separated the functions of preparing food and cooking it altogether by moving the stove into a compartment adjacent to the kitchen.
Christine Frederick published from 1913 a series of articles on “New Household Management” in which she analyzed the kitchen following Taylorist principles of efficiency, presented detailed time-motion studies, and derived a kitchen design from them. Her ideas were taken up in the 1920s by architects in Germany and Austria, most notably Bruno Taut, Erna Meyer, Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky and Benita Otte, who designed the first fitted kitchen for the Haus am Horn, which was completed in 1923. Similar design principles were employed by Schütte-Lihotzky for her famous Frankfurt kitchen, designed for Ernst May’s Römerstadt, a social housing project in Frankfurt, in 1927.