NYT Home section “analysis” of the new rug are creeping me out." /> NYT Home section “analysis” of the new rug are creeping me out." />

Alexandra Lange | Essays

Kitchen Godjets

Bad form to apologize for not posting. But it is the lightest news week of the year! All this coverage of Barack Obama’s office! The psychologists-cum-decorators in the NYT Home section “analysis” of the new rug are creeping me out. And Dominique Browning says what I would have said, had I been asked:

Dominique Browning:
Former editor in chief, House & Garden

"All those earth tones. Brown upon rust upon ochre upon…drab. We’re dangerously close to Harvest Gold here, folks. This office does not inspire confidence. The presidential team is clearly trying to project a laid back, we-don’t-do-decorating image — and why? Design matters. We judge books — and presidents — by their covers, at least at first glance. Obama’s office looks small and subdued; it could be the TV room in anyone’s house. The Bush version could have used tweaking; it is a tad on the fussy, nouveau-suburban side, but at least it is light, airy and elegant, as befits the office. And those blue stripes on the side chairs have panache. The Bush carpet — and each President commissions his own — wins hands down; those radiating stripes are wonderfully bold."

So let me call your attention to something more interesting in the same section. I wrote about the evolution of kitchen design here (many revealing descriptions of kitchens past in the comments) and mentioned the upcoming MoMA exhibit Counter Space. Here’s an interview with the dynamic curator Juliet Kinchin, talking about the role of women in making the American kitchen, and how space stresses us out.

Since then, the kitchen seems to have gone from a modular, efficient place to one customized to various tastes, outfitted with computers, TVs and nonergonomic tools like Philippe Starck’s lemon juicer.

Reyner Banham, the critic, called things like that “symbols of affluent futility.” After World War II, it wasn’t just about the abundance of food, it was about the proliferation of these symbols. You’re selling appliances by dancing. Banham also called them “household godjets.” It’s the leisure kitchen.


Some people hate to cook.

It’s called mageirocophobia, the fear of cooking. That’s the downside of bringing the kitchen into the middle of the home — you’re being judged not just by your family, but by not feeding the family well enough.

Posted in: Arts + Culture

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