The purpose of this paper is to explore the changing materialities, ideas, and practices of the kitchen as a hub for distribution, rationalization and consumption, where science, economics, and culture interact in intricate ways. This paper investigates how home economists and architects collaborated in creating new rational kitchens that would render housework more efficient. It also considers how their efforts were discussed in ladies journals in order to grasp how this was presented to the consumer.
The case at hand will be Sweden, which during the 19th century was a country undergoing rapid modernization and urbanization. More specifically, this paper will use Stockholm as a case, since it was the biggest city and most subject to private and public interventions. Whereas the home had previously been considered a private responsibility, the lack of adequate housing now hampered the urban development. This lead to demands for more public intervention to create a well-functioning urban infrastructure, and new scientific knowledge on hygiene as well as engineering also meant that the housing issue came to the forefront.
The kitchen is particularly interesting since so many novel technologies and facilities were introduced here. In a sense, it can be defined as a hub for consumption. Here, the household materializes financial resources through food consumption, and through artifacts such as the stove, pantry, furniture and fixtures. The kitchen is also a place where ideas and ideals of what everyday life should entail are manifested. It thus serves as a lens through which we can discern the contemporary discourse on how the ideal society should be constructed.
12th International Conference on Urban History: Cities in Europe, Cities in the World, Lissabon 3-6 september 2014