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History Of The German Kitchen Industry

Updated: Mar 22, 2023

Germany is a country rich in history and full of culture. You wouldn’t believe the backstory that comes with the German kitchen industry. A kitchen may seem essential and therefore pretty simple, but there’s an abundance of thought processes that go into the design. Some of the oldest kitchen brands worldwide originate from Germany, with a history of over 100 years.

It’s commonly known for these kitchen companies to be a family business, sticking to tradition over the years. Well-known brand names such as Poggenpohl have been around as early as 1892, followed by companies like Leicht and SieMatic, who opened in the late 1920s.

Inspired by the Frankfurt kitchen, these businesses have adapted over the years to provide perfection in each kitchen they design.

The Influence of The Frankfurt Kitchen

German kitchen designs made a breakthrough after the First World War when the Frankfurt kitchen was designed by Margaret Schutte-Lihotzky. Due to a housing shortage after the war, German cities were in dire need of new apartments built at a reduced cost with kitchens being commonly part of the same room as the living and dining room.

The Frankfurt kitchen introduced a separate kitchen without taking up too much of the apartment's space. Divided by a sliding door, the first fitted kitchen was introduced. Each one was installed complete with the essentials such as a stove, cabinets, sink, storage bins, and a foldable ironing board.

Over 10,000 units were built in the late 1920s and the Soviet Russian government implemented the design in their new industrial towns. Many companies within the kitchen industry in Germany took a lot of ideas from this model that are still used today.

However, the original Frankfurt kitchen was utilized for being too small and was thrown out in the 1970s.

Poggenpohl: Designing Kitchens Since 1892

Although Poggenpohl was established many years before the Frankfurt kitchen came about, they later on took the fitted kitchen approach. This company is one of the oldest kitchen brands in the world, which aimed to introduce comfort and innovative storage ideas into the industry.

In 1928, the ‘Reform Kitchen’ was introduced. This was a few steps behind a fitted kitchen, but included joint worktops and established a better flow than previous kitchen solutions. A few years later in 1930, the 10-layer polished lacquer technique gave their furniture a smooth finish which was a huge success within the industry.

It became the industry standard for the German home kitchen to have a unit kitchen, and Poggenpohl introduced their design in 1950. Due to their highest quality standards, they began selling to the US in 1970, and have expanded globally today. Their technology kitchen was released in 2004, and their process masters are still adapting and improving each day.

Leicht and SieMatic: Improving The Kitchen Industry

Leicht wasn’t always a kitchen design company in Germany, as when they were set up in 1928, they just built furniture and interior fittings. 1949 became the revolutionary point for this company when they introduced their ‘build-on’ kitchen where electrical appliances were added to furniture. This was first met with rejection as there was resistance to spending money on the planning and fitting process.

Leicht knew how to tap into the minds of the consumer in the 1950s with their COLORA fitted kitchen. They wanted customers to believe this colorful fitted kitchen would be a valued addition to every home with the phrase, ‘colorful kitchens – happy women’. Leicht is still going strong today and continuing to provide reliable and durable kitchens for all in the premium segment.

SieMatic was a company built in 1929, but started the main production in 1946. Their redesigned kitchen reform series was introduced in 1953, and was a breakthrough for their business. They said goodbye to handles in 1960, when designing the first kitchen with integrated grip handles. Not long after, SieMatic joined the US market and became one of the first kitchen furniture manufacturers to use medium-density fiberboard (MDF). SieMatic is one of the hidden champions of the kitchen industry and still engineering kitchens to perfection today.

With such an elaborate backstory with so many breakthroughs, a German kitchen is guaranteed to be the best quality. Each company has used trial and error to find the perfect design for everyone. It’s amazing how such an industry has so much history and shows how much a kitchen brings a home together.

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