Kitchen Power: National Parallels


Wednesday, 16th September - Thursday, 17th September 2020

Kitchen Power: National Parallels is an international online symposium which looks at the parallels and differences between mid-century modern kitchens in national contexts from Ireland to Spain, Scandinavia, Canada and Korea.

Image credit: The Kitchen Power: Women's Experiences of Rural Electrification exhibition in the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life in County Mayo, Ireland, looks at the promised lifestyle and everyday reality of rural electrification and the effect that it had on the lives of Irish women. (Find more exhibition information further below on this page).

The Kitchen Power: National Parallels online symposium comprises four sessions run over two days Wednesday 16 — Thursday 17 September 2020, and brings together a selection of international academics in design, architecture and technology history to look at how issues surrounding domesticity, gender and technology played out in a wide range of national contexts.

The presentation of academic papers look at the gendered nature of kitchen design, the consumption and promotion of electric appliances, the impact of rural electrification programmes, and the role of women’s organisations, as well as the different ways in which international ideas about ‘modern homes’ were implemented.
The symposium is convened by Dr Sorcha O’Brien (NCAD), co-curator of the Kitchen Power: Women's Experiences of Rural Electrification exhibition, and is run in partnership between the National Museum of Ireland (NMI) - Country Life and the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. It is also supported by a Design History Society Virtual Event Grant.

Speakers include: Dr. Fredie Floré, KU Leuven | Dr. Ana María Fernández García, University of Oviedo | Dr. Sophie Gerber, Technisches Museum Wien | Maria Göransdotter, Umeå Institute of Design | Dr Yunah Lee, University of Brighton | Dr Sorcha O’Brien, NCAD | Prof Barbara Penner, Bartlett School of Architecture | Prof Ruth Sandwell, University of Toronto.
TICKETS are free - BOOKING LINKS are below for each of the four sessions.
1. Kitchen Power: Modernity and Domesticity in Ireland and Korea 
11am, Wednesday 16 September 2020 Registration LINK
This session looks at issues about modernity and domesticity in Ireland and South Korea, and is chaired by Noel Campbell (National Museum of Ireland - Country Life) with presentations from:
Dr Sorcha O'Brien (NCAD)
'Kitchen Power: Modernity, Tradition and Gender Roles during Irish Rural Electrification'

Dr Yunah Lee (University of Brighton)
'Modern Kitchen: Design, Technology and Gender in South Korea'
2. Kitchen Power: Domesticity and Design in Belgium and Scandinavia 
3pm, Wednesday 16 September 2020 Registration LINK
This session looks at issues of domesticity and design in Belgium and Scandinavia, and is chaired by Prof Jane Pavitt (Kingston University) with presentations from:
Dr Fredie Floré (KU Leuven)
'Promoting Modern Domesticity In The Belgian Countryside: The Housing Advice Of The Belgische Boerinnenbond 1945-1957'

Maria Göransdottir (Umeå University)
'Design Methods in the Kitchen: On the Feminist Origins of Scandinavian User-Centered Design'
3. Kitchen Power: Science and Modernity in West Germany and the United States
11am, Thursday 17 September 2020 Registration LINK
This session looks at issues of science and modern design in West Germany and the United States, and is chaired by Prof David Crowley (NCAD) with presentations from:
Prof Barbara Penner (Bartlett School of Architecture)
'The Cornell Kitchen: Marketing Science in America'

Dr Sophie Gerber (Technische Museum Wien)
'Everything Electric: The Modern Kitchen in West Germany, 1957 – 1972'
4. Kitchen Power: Women and Education in Canada and Spain 
3pm, Thursday 17 September 2020 Registration LINK
This session looks at women and education in Canada and Spain, and is chaired by Prof Penny Sparke (Kingston University) with presentations from:
Prof Ruth Sandwell (University of Toronto)
'Canadian Kitchen Power: Re-Educating Women for the New Energy Regime, 1890-1940'

Dr Ana María Fernández García (Universidad de Oviedo)
'Spanish Kitchen: Rural and Urban Evolution'
* The symposium will also live broadcast on the NCAD Gallery & In Public YouTube channel.
KITCHEN POWER: Women's Experiences of Rural Electrification
NMI Exhibition 
Rural electrification changed the lives of women in Ireland in the 1950s and 1960s, where everyday items such as the washing machine relieved them of the hardship of many labour intensive household chores. Kitchen Power: Women's Experiences of Rural Electrification looks at the ways in which these products were advertised and promoted as part of a modern lifestyle, and how the advertising fantasies translated into the reality of the average rural Irish kitchen.
The exhibition, which has been developed by the Museum in partnership with Kingston University and the Arts, London & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and with support from the ESB, Irish Farmer's Journal, Age & Opportunity, and GMIT Letterfrack, is the flagship temporary exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life this year.
As part of the exhibition visitors will be transported back in time with objects and advertisements of the era, a 1950s ESB/ICA model kitchen reconstructed by GMIT Letterfrack, textile art work commissioned by Age & Opportunity and stories from those whose lives were intrinsically changed by this dramatic shift in Irish culture.

For more information, visit the Electric Irish Homes website, and for information on the textile art project visit Our Irish Heritage.

NCAD Gallery & In Public Programme, National College of Art & Design, 100 Thomas Street, Dublin, D08 K521, Ireland. Contact: Anne Kelly, Curator.