At MoMA, a design show about the evolution of the kitchen

The Frankfurt Kitchen of 1927 is part of "Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen" at New York's Museum of Modern Art. (Copyright The Museum Of Modern Art, New York)
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By Blake Gopnik
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 26, 2010; 11:01 AM

Any home chef knows there is more to the aesthetics of food than the way it looks on the plate or the way it tastes. Many of us get as much joy from the implements and gadgetry of cooking as from the foods they help us cook.

A design show called "Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen," at New York's Museum of Modern Art, looks at the past century or so. It makes an interesting discovery: The rise of serious, servant-less home cuisine coincides, more or less, with the rise of modern art and culture.

Though cooking itself can seem a romantic, retrospective art - all that revisiting of Proustian madeleines and Escoffier sauces - the tools we use to achieve it are often sleek and clean as a Brancusi. What blender has ever come with Louis XV gilt?

The exhibition centers on the famous "Frankfurt Kitchen" of 1927, one of the first high-efficiency spaces designed for the home cook. And it surveys the objects we went on to use in our Dream Kitchens, and what they have meant to us. (One section includes works of modern and contemporary art that respond to - and often react against - the siren song of the stove.)

Of course, with the victory of good design in home kitchens, cooks faced a new challenge: Our food had to be as fine as the tools we made it with.

Through March 14, 2011, at the Museum of Modern Art, 11 W. 53rd St., New York.

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