In a new post from ARCHITECT's monthly series that explores the historical applications of building materials and systems through resources from the Building Technology Heritage Library (BTHL), contributing writer Mike Jackson looks at how the modern kitchen came to be.

He says it all started with the Hoosier cabinet, "a free-standing cupboard that incorporated storage space and a working countertop." Before the 1920s, kitchens often had a series of separate appliances and cabinets, but around this time manufacturers began creating products that gave kitchens a more cohesive look.

But the big breakthrough in kitchen design was modular cabinets and continuous countertops in the 1930s. The introduction of these products also coincided with the Modern design movement. Jackson writes: the period was a truly remarkable decade of residential transformation and the kitchen was the place where many Americans got their first chance to express their Modern design sensibilities.

Continue reading at to see documents in the BTHL that offer a look back at kitchen design from the early-to-mid 20th century. featuring important introductions such as the Kalamazoo Kitchen Kabinet in 1917, and kitchen catalogs and design materials from the past century.

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