Austrian architect‐designer Schütte‐Lihotsky played an important role in the design of efficient, economical, and pleasant living environments for working women. She is perhaps best known for her design of the ‘Frankfurt Kitchen’, an important contribution to scientific management in the home. She was the first woman to study architecture at the High School for the Applied Arts in Vienna and worked under Oskar Strnad, a Viennese architect specializing in working‐class housing. In 1920 she was awarded a prize for a drawing of an allotment design, thereby bringing herself to the attention of Adolf Loos, Josef Frank, and others involved in Viennese public housing. Influential on her outlook were the principles of Taylorism, a scientific approach to efficiency in the workplace pioneered by Frederick Winslow Taylor in the late 19th century documented in his book Principles of Scientific Management (1911). Also important to European designers concerned with domestic efficiency were the writings of the American Christine Frederick, whose Scientific Management in the Home (1915) was translated into German in 1922. Ernst May, the City Architect of Frankfurt, a muncipality overtly committed to the promotion of Modernist architecture and design, invited Schütte‐Lihotsky to bring together architects, manufacturers, and housewives to assist in the design of well‐planned, easily managed homes. Schütte‐Lihotsky (like Frederick and Lillian Gilbreth in the United States) realized that the principles of Taylorism could be applied usefully to the domestic environment, particularly the kitchen. She measured the times taken for kitchen‐based tasks with a stopwatch and, armed with her findings and inspired by railway and ship galleys, designed a small efficient kitchen in which activities were logically linked. The resulting designs included built‐in cupboards and storage units and beechwood work surfaces. The latter were easy to keep clean; other surfaces not used for food preparation were painted blue to deter flies. The culinary tasks of the housewives were aided further by the provision of a swivel‐top stool from which they could easily reach food storage, chopping board, and the kitchen sink. Psychological considerations were also taken into account and mothers were able to watch over their children in the living area whilst working in the kitchen. Construction costs were minimized through factory prefabrication and over 10,000 ‘Frankfurt kitchens’ were installed in Viennese housing schemes in the 1920s. After the success of the Frankfurt kitchens Schütte‐Lihotsky joined a team of Austrians and Germans in the design of towns in the Soviet Union. However, in 1938 when the Germans marched into Austria Schütte‐Lihotsky joined the Communist Party and protested against the Nazis. This resulted in her arrest by the Gestapo and imprisonment in Bavaria until the end of the Second World War. In 1988 she was awarded both the Vienna City Prize for Architecture and the Austrian Honorary Medal for Science and Art. The importance and quality of her work was celebrated in the 1993 exhibition at the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna devoted to her life and career. Fittingly, near the end of her life, in 1998 she oversaw a project for a housing estate in Vienna designed by women for women.
Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.