In 1931 the Netherlands Association of Housewives commissioned architect J.W. Janzen to design the ‘Holland Kitchen’, the Dutch response to the ‘Frankfurt Kitchen’ (1926) of Margarete Shütte-Lihotsky. The design took account of modern time and motion studies. It provided a minimal walking distance and the best natural lighting for the most common activities such as cooking and washing up and it employed standard measurements. However, the ‘Holland’ kitchen was never put into large-scale production. It was shown at fairs and was incorporated in a few housing projects, but remained too expensive for mass production.
It was not until 1936 that Bruynzeel commissioned architect Koen Limperg to design kitchen elements that were suitable for manufacture. It eventually fell to the designer Piet Zwart (dates) to design the kitchen, which employed a large number of standard elements. Key design criteria were ease of fabrication and installation. The Netherlands Association of Housewives was enthusiastic about this practical and affordable kitchen. Many architects also praised the design. The kitchen was put into production in 1937 and was installed in Sonneveld House in the same year.
It remains a mystery why Sonneveld family replaced the original American steel Mauser kitchen with the current wooden Bruynzeel kitchen just four years after it was installed. It is possible that Rotterdam chauvinism played a role.
Piet Zwart, Bruynzeel kitchen, 1936-37, collection Het Nieuwe Instituut.
Trailer van de film Alles moet nieuw, (Make Everything New) about Piet Zwart, broadcast as part of AVRO's Close Up series in 2012. The entire episode can be viewed here (with payment of a fee).