Coolhuntermx – Kitchen Design in Mexico

In the first part of Kitchens in Mexico, we briefly reviewed its birth and development, from pre-Hispanic culture to the viceroyalty. In this second installment we will review modern design, contemporary cuisine and the desirable future for cooking in Mexico.

Let us remember that the kitchen is an object in itself; a repository of other objects and functions as a creative system that adapts to its occupants, their baggage, uses and customs. And it represents the heart of the home, because in it social activities are carried out and the family community is reinforced. Also on this occasion I would like to establish that the design in the kitchen responds to its historical moment seasoned by fashions, trends and styles.

modular kitchens

By the beginning of the 20th century, modern design was developing in Europe, specifically in Germany with more efficient, practical and economical architectural design; This is how the Frankfurt kitchen emerged, the ideal model of the modern kitchen, designed in 1926 by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky. She was the first graduate of the Wiener Kunstgewerbeschule, the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Although his design was not the first, he was the most successful and influential in the design of kitchens for domestic spaces.

The integral kitchen concept was incorporated into North American culture and little by little it was introduced into Mexican designs. This brought with it the possibility of modulating spaces to reinforce what we already know: form follows function. And so the kitchen that was previously hidden and remote, now began to be part of the entire project of housing design. It openly communicated with the dining room and the living room.

As for objects, the coexistence between European or North American utensils with regional ones, the syncretism of technology and the increasingly visible relationship between modernity and progress with hygiene and health is continuous, since, in 1950, refrigerators, stoves and cupboards wore impeccable finishes, generally white, being part of the so-called white line.

Frankfurt Kitchen, designed by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, ca. 1926-1930, Department of Visual Resources, Minneapolis Institute of Art

global design

Currently, the design in the kitchen is much more homogeneous and constitutes an almost repetitive system, in part because the house itself is designed in a systematic way. The ideal kitchen contains the same appliances and classic elements that we stop seeing because they become part of the domestic landscape.

We suffer from an undeniable globalization in design, not only for kitchens, I mean in all areas, as trends and styles spread quickly. What seems like a good idea anywhere in the world can easily be applied here in Mexico. The tools that promote this type of global design are digital: Behance, Pinterest, Instagram and many more, function as a showcase and inspiration, at best. And plagiarism or extractivism, in the less fortunate.

In any case, despite the fact that contemporary kitchens are more and more similar, there are attempts to identify the Mexican space by adding characteristics that we relate to our cultural identity. For example, by adding local materials, familiar shapes, or familiar colors. Even so, in use, Mexican cuisine remains a multicultural cluster, in which our traditions continue to dominate. So does function follow tradition?

Signature cuisine, Ariel Rojo, 2011, Ariel Rojo Design Studio

The objects of the desirable future

Talking about design is talking about desire, what we want to obtain, have and possess. The kitchen works as the ideal pretext to feed our consumption habits, not for nothing there are appliances and utensils in a variety of shapes and colors. For the future we have an overwhelming announcement of what is new, what is newest and what will make your life easier, faster and more effective. Lately, the idea of ​​delegating tedious kitchen tasks to so-called robots has become popular: all-in-one processors that save you from kneading flour and water for hours, to deliver a perfect hot bread, for example.

And there is also the counterproposal, the one I like the most, which is to go back to simple objects and local ingredients, to be friendly with one, and respectful of the other, with the environment. Modify the how to reach a common good, promote fair trade, reuse, recycle and repair. Social networks also serve as a link to carry out exchanges of objects that are still useful between neighbors or local producers.

Living room kitchen, Bonifacio Maraveles Collection, Ca. 1957, National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico

In the end, Mexican cuisine will always be Mexican

Many years may pass and our cuisine will continue to contain Mexican mysticism, Mexa pride and the traditions that surround our kitsch because we are faithful to food that delights the palate in celebrations and sorrows. And because there is no better heritage than grandma’s copper pot and the wooden grinder that thanks to the craftsmanship we can still use when foaming chocolate.

For us, the kitchen is not only the space where food is prepared and the table is shared, it is also the social meeting point, where family customs are elaborated and daily conversations are established.