Kitchen design evolution
Kitchens through the Ages
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View our illustrated journey through key moments in the evolution of the kitchen. See how far we have come since the days of open fires.
Basic Kitchens, Creative Cooking - Medieval
- Pre 18th century, most people still cooked on open fires
- Medieval banquets for the rich included an extensive variety of food
- Kitchen appliances were very simple but effective
Cooking was very simple for the poor in medieval times, while banquets for the rich were extravagant.
- Spits were used to roast animals over open fires
- Iron, bronze, copper or clay pots on open fires were used to cook soups or stews
- Medieval castles had open fires with brick or clay ovens
- Salting, pickling, smoking and drying were common preservation methods for food
- Large stone sinks with drainage were used
Kitchen austerity, pioneer appliances - 1920s to 1940s
- The kitchen work triangle was developed in the 1940s to maximise the efficiency of a kitchen
- The microwave was an accidental discovery in 1945 after WW2 radar technology melted an engineer's chocolate bar
- 1920s kitchens were plain and functional, but throughout the 1930s all-purpose kitchens became more of a necessity as homes got smaller
1930s kitchens were sparse but also as lino came into style, black and white checked patterns became popular. The 1940s ushered in an explosion of new kitchen technology.
- Hotpoint launched its first 'Gyrating action machine' and the 'Aero ball action machine'
- The electric plug-in copper kettle was invented in 1922 by Arthur Leslie. It was then largely replaced by the GE stove-top kettle
- Arrival of the Kenwood Model A101 toaster
- The AGA cooker was invented in 1922 by Swedish Nobel prize winner Gustaf Dalen
- The 'Monitor-Top' General Electric refrigerator was introduced in 1927. Pantries for food storage remained popular
Kitchens became the hub of the home - 1950s to 1960s
- Labour saving devices reduced house work for housewives in the 1950s
- Hygena pioneered fitted prefab kitchens in the UK during the 1950s and 1960s
- By 1962, 23% of households had a fridge and by 1971 it was 69%
The 1950s were awash with pastel coloured enamel appliances which developed into kitchens with cleaner lines, sleeker finishes and more kitsch designs.
- Rolls Razor twin tub electric washing machine
- Electric Mixer; The sucessful launch of the Kenwood Chef in 1950
- General Electric Built-in Oven: Ovens were often built into a wall or cabinetry with hobs built into worktops
- The bestselling kettle in Britain was the Russell Hobbs K2
- Arrival of the English Electric Refrigerator
Home cooking becomes creative - 1970s
- By 1974 1 in 10 households had a freezer
- By the late 1970s large slot 2 and 4-slice toasters arrived enabling toasting of thicker slices of bread
- The size of kitchens increased as they become more sociable spaces
During the 1970s, kitchen styles got darker and included Formica worktops.
- The Hotpoint Liberator 1850 Deluxe was one of the first front loading washing machines
- Belling launched the 'Baby Belling 120' which incorporated both an oven and a grill
- Arrival of the classic Russell Hobbs large 2-slice toaster
- The LEC fridge freezer became Which? magazine's best buy for the 1970s
Kitchens became more open plan - 1980s
- Starting in the 1980s, kitchens were much better ventilated with improved extractor hoods which meant they began to be integrated with other living spaces
- Cooking was increasingly perceived as creative and a fun social activity instead of work
- By 1986, 1 in 5 people were estimated to have a microwave oven, which was said to help reduce cooking time by 75%
By the 1980s kitchens became more open plan, but kitchen cabinet styles became more conservative with darker tones, solid woods and Formica countertops.
- Arrival of the classic Michal Graves tea kettle
- Breville toasted sandwich maker
- Kenwood - Chef Excel food mixer
- Philips Compact Microwave Oven: Model 5100 with defrost feature
- During the 1980s Smeg was a much in demand brand producing a variety of minimal stainless steel products, including their iconic fridge freezer
Choice & ultra convenience - Nowadays
- Huge choice of kitchen styles; today, fitted kitchens are custom built
- Kitchen islands become an essential part of the modern kitchen
- Russell Hobbs is recognised by 9 out of 10 consumers in the UK
Sleek and simple kitchen themes, brighter with more variety in styles available.
- De'Longhi Dolce Gusto System with Coffee Capsules
- Large American sized fridges
- Panasonic blueprint induction Hob
- State of the art Beko WMB91242L washing machine
- The Russell Hobbs classic 2-slice toaster - still going strong
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