Kitchen cabinets have been an indescribably important part of the development of the industrial society. Indeed, many my balk at such a bold statement, however it is of critical importance not to undermine the many smaller household developments that have over time led us to the advent of modern society. The kitchen cabinet is just one of many ways that we can track the development of humankind’s interest in modernity and efficiency. Changes in kitchen space usage and indeed the kitchen’s role in a home as well as those who abided in it are important to understanding how the world took on many new changes in the post industrial world following the Second World War. At that time the world began to change, and significantly too. Watching the development of the kitchen cabinet is simply one of a multitude of ways in which families ushered in the new world and left behind the old.
The modern kitchen cabinet was predated by the Hoosier Cabinet, built in the 1910s. This cabinet is similar to the modern cabinet arrangement of floor cabinets built against a wall with a countertop on top. The Hoosier Cabinet emulated this, however it was a freestanding piece of furniture that employed a workspace on the top and storage space below. Over two million copies of this piece of furniture had been sold by 1920, and it is easy to see why. In this pre- World War One era, the use of freestanding workstations to prepare food partnered with pantries in which to store dry goods was common. The Hoosier Cabinet combined these two perfectly and conserved space, leaving more room to work on cooking projects. In addition, pantries were usually kept in a variety of places, especially in larger houses. The butler’s pantry often held the dishes while dry goods were stored in the kitchen below. Developing new ways to employ the space made kitchen cabinets an important part of the home’s development.
Moreover, following the war we saw across the world an interest in the efficiency of the home. The modern era began to descend upon the homes of all, and work space and kitchen surface design became an important part of the research done to identify how the home and the hearth could be put to more efficient use. The post- World War Two kitchen cabinet design clearly demonstrates this push. At this time cabinet countertops began to be made from high pressure laminates, such as Formica. This trend led to the “flush surface” design of the kitchen that has followed us into modernity. Laminates eventually gave way to other materials, such as stone and quartz. In Europe, the built in cabinets that had shown up during the 1920s began to emerge world wide, paired with these countertops made of laminates. The frameless cabinet style was popular due to its minimalist feel, similar to the Bauhaus design. Following its emerging popularity, this development in kitchen cabinetry soon began to travel around the world and became popular in kitchens worldwide.