There is nothing so redolent of the past as its vision of the future.
November 13, 2013 8:05 PM   Subscribe

A tour of GE's Kitchen of the Future from the 1964 New York World's Fair. Warnings: Racistly vague ethnic appropriation; monorails; AquaNet. Kitchen porn kicks in hard core around minute 5.

GE has been pumping out kitchens of the future since the 1939 World's Fair (though this 1935 Popular Mechanics article has tons more gee-whiz and better pics).

For a contemporary take, here's GE's vision for this kitchen of 2025: Site, Video. For a much slicker contemporary take with a bigger ad budget, here's Corning's: Video.

Previously on metafiler: Visiting the 1964 world's fair online.
posted by Diablevert (42 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Personal notes: I have no idea whether the last ethnic kitchen is supposed to be Mexico or Spain; neither is associated with seafoam green paisley to my mind. Also, this may be the very first Woman Laughing At Salad.

Mea Culpa: Upon watching this for the second time, the opening actually seems to show the GM, and not the GE pavilion? Which, I don't know why GM would be making kitchens, but my apologies if I bollixed that up.
posted by Diablevert at 8:29 PM on November 13, 2013


Upon watching this for the second time, the opening actually seems to show the GM, and not the GE pavilion? Which, I don't know why GM would be making kitchens, but my apologies if I bollixed that up.

The film was produced by Frigidaire, a division (until 1979) of General Motors. To make things fair for the competition, I present this deeply amazing and ultra-mod 1968 short film from Westinghouse.
posted by eschatfische at 8:37 PM on November 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Okay, so this is super weird for a MST3K-Rifftrax-Fun With Shorts fan like me cause I hear SEVERAL musical cues from other such short films of the same era - It's stuff from 21st Century Calling - This Is Coffee- and Design For Dreaming. Not like them, but the actual music.

Like I know they must have recycled various production/industrial music for like-minded shorts but it's so weird to hear them all mashed up into one thing like this.

Also, wow that's way above normal for racisms then I was expecting. Like ..yikes.
posted by The Whelk at 8:53 PM on November 13, 2013


eschatfische, that is amazing. Astro-Glo Bronze! and the jazz flute of danger.
posted by Diablevert at 8:54 PM on November 13, 2013


Not like them, but the actual music.

It's probably licensed aka "library music."
posted by Betty Tyranny at 9:03 PM on November 13, 2013


And it's the same companies too, it's one thing to know that it's other to hear it, you know?
posted by The Whelk at 9:04 PM on November 13, 2013


I present this deeply amazing and ultra-mod 1968 short film from Westinghouse.

THIS IS MY FRIDGE AND IT FREAKS ME OUT!
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:16 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyone know who did the music on the GM film? I think it sounds like Elmer Bernstein, but I'm not sure where to find something like that.
posted by The Potate at 9:40 PM on November 13, 2013


"forget the world around you, forget the people around you"

The neo-conservative, libertarian message had begun.

"The jungle world... one day, this land will be transformed into land for farms and pastures for cattle."

Yup, that's happened. Turns out it wasn't such a great idea after all, though.

"... a future of limitless hope, and promise"

Turned out that even hope itself had limits.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:42 PM on November 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can't wait for the future!
posted by mazola at 9:44 PM on November 13, 2013


Well if there's one thing I've learned, it's that since the beginning of time appliance makers have overestimated the importance of appliances in my life.
posted by mazola at 10:04 PM on November 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


There might have been a Futuro House in the early 1970s in a vacant lot (or perhaps Logan Square) between the Franklin Institute and JFK Blvd. When it was around, I would visit it at least once a month; my dad, an aerospace engineer, loved it. My mother, an interior designer, who specialized in antiques, did not. Mostly what I recall was the curing fiberglas smell.
posted by Dreidl at 10:05 PM on November 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I want to see an episode of Orphan Black based on this!
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:09 PM on November 13, 2013


As was so brilliantly put by Best Brains in their Design for Dreaming sketch:

Look, the dead raccoon of tomorrow.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:49 PM on November 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Kitchen of tomorrow huh? What did THAT cost?
posted by ShutterBun at 10:56 PM on November 13, 2013


The really weird thing is that Metafites in 50 years time will be saying the same thing about us today...
posted by vac2003 at 12:05 AM on November 14, 2013


Crunchy ingredients of the future, perhaps.
posted by islander at 12:38 AM on November 14, 2013


Upon watching this for the second time, the opening actually seems to show the GM, and not the GE pavilion? Which, I don't know why GM would be making kitchens, but my apologies if I bollixed that up.

My friends house, which I also used to live in had a HILARIOUSLY kitschy early 60s KITCHEN OF THE FUTURE kitchen. No expense was spared, it seemed. The stove slid out of the wall like a drawer(and lots of bits around it moved when you did this, it was mechanically clever). The oven was ridiculous jetsons looking with little details on the glass door, and there was a fancy retracting range hood as well that just folded in flush with the wall when the fan wasn't running.

The whole shebang had GM logos on it. Not frigidare or anything. Just "GM design" or something along those lines.

Sadly, the heating element burned out in the oven of that wacky unit and no one in town, or online could source anything remotely similar... And then the house burned down.

When I get a chance to sit down and really watch this video I'll be interested to see if I spot anything from that kitchen in there.
posted by emptythought at 12:47 AM on November 14, 2013


Woah dang that is a whole lotta racist appropriation. Warning for white lady miming little mincing steps of the footbound, seemingly overwhelmed with materialistic pleasures.

That being said, the adorable miniatures during the cringe-inducing under the sea portion were my favorite part. I want a foiled sausage link submarine train set!
posted by Mizu at 1:37 AM on November 14, 2013


We're living in the future, I'll tell you how I know
I read it in the paper, 20 years ago.

posted by Devils Rancher at 2:49 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Turned out that even hope itself had limits.

I pretty much rejected this observation as old mannishness — on my part, not yours — because in general I try to keep the dander up, and I need to believe in a future for my daughter (as do you), but, yunno, the whole underwater cities and travel to the stars type of things just seem like bigger dreams than the ones that circulate in the public sphere today.

I can't, however, believe there's any reason other people hope and dream any less than I may have when younger. I suspect I'm just not feeling the contours of it any more. The concept of "the future" seems to be pretty deprecated these days, but that don't mean some rough beast ain't slouching toward Jerusalem.
posted by Wolof at 4:34 AM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, this may be the very first Woman Laughing At Salad.

Also features Woman Drinking Tea With Both Hands. Once you notice that women in ads always drink coffee or tea by bringing the mug to their faces with both hands, you will never not notice it. Men in ads do it, too, but much less frequently.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:49 AM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


this deeply amazing and ultra-mod 1968 short film from Westinghouse .

Amazing is right. I don't know about appliances, but I *need* that proletarian uniformesque pant-suit o' the future, STAT!
posted by mikelieman at 4:54 AM on November 14, 2013


"Astro-Glo Bronze" THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER!
posted by mikelieman at 4:56 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Appliance manufacturers, in reality, are the cheapest motherfuckers in the business. If they can find a way to shave a penny out of a design, they'll spend 5 figures to do it. That's what's the saddest about these concept videos.

Also, the successful businesses don't bother with concept videos.
posted by JoeZydeco at 5:10 AM on November 14, 2013


I'm glad that I can be transfixed on the racist overtones so that I miss out the message that women should all have their hair and home perfect and belong fawning over things in the kitchen - and not the fact that they were on a monorail!

All that needed at the end was the dad saying, 'Now be a dear and get me my pipe.'

How much mother's little helper did the average 50's and 60's housewife have to actually take to buy into this?
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:51 AM on November 14, 2013


Would you be a dear and get me my pipe?

French speakers here will, um, get this.
posted by Wolof at 6:03 AM on November 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Who needs promotional films when you have Audio-animatronic theatrical extravaganzas?
"It's hard to imagine how life could be any easier. But there's a new company, uh, General Electric they call it, who are trying to bring the same power that runs the trolley into folk's homes. I don't know, but if those fellows work that out, one thing is certain...

There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow
Shining at the end of every day..."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:05 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Who was at the DuPont pavilion? Why was the bench still warm? Who had been there?
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:33 AM on November 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Retro-futurism at its best!
posted by Wild_Eep at 7:21 AM on November 14, 2013


Discussions of the kitchen of the future with not be complete without a reference to Mon Oncle.
posted by hanoixan at 7:33 AM on November 14, 2013


She keeps taking hot foods out of the oven with her bare hands (except in "Spain", where she flings her little bit of cloth away with so much glee it's clear she didn't need it). WHY DOESN'T SHE BELIEVE IN OVEN MITTS?
posted by Mchelly at 9:01 AM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is that Ken Nordine doing the narration? Whoever it is, it's got a wonderfully distinctive style. I think you could guess the era and the context even if you couldn't make sense of the words themselves.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:23 AM on November 14, 2013


WHY DOESN'T SHE BELIEVE IN OVEN MITTS?

And where did they find a brontosaurus to kill for that roast at the end? Also, I'd like to see the washer in 2013 that could handle a silk sari...
posted by Diablevert at 9:23 AM on November 14, 2013


THIS IS MY FRIDGE AND IT FREAKS ME OUT!

So glad to see I wasn't the only one who instantly thought of Russ Meyer while watching the Westinghouse film. During the first 90 seconds, as the blonde woman in the pantsuit walked through the woods, smiling sweetly, feeding the geese as a gentle flute played in the background, all I could think was "oh, man, this is gonna turn into Mudhoney, isn't it?"
posted by bakerina at 9:24 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


uncleozzy: "Also features Woman Drinking Tea With Both Hands. Once you notice that women in ads always drink coffee or tea by bringing the mug to their faces with both hands, you will never not notice it. Men in ads do it, too, but much less frequently."

In my experience, it seems like the male variant of Two-Fisted Tea Drinkin'* only happens in commercials for cold and flu remedies, to better underscore the sickly, unmasculine wretchedness of a strong man brought low by a puny microbe.

* If there isn't a TV Trope for this, there should be.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:25 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Was going to link to video of the Future Kitchen from EPCOT's long-lost Horizons, but nothing does it justice like the in-depth investigations from Mesa Verde Times.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:58 AM on November 14, 2013


Hot damn, I totally had that stove! The one in the picture and at minute 5 of the video. The way the burners slid away into the wall was really cool, and the head level ovens were super convenient.
Despite being 50 years old, it worked rather well, even if the heating elements did not all get hot enough to boil.
Unfortunately, had no way to move it or store it after I had to move out of that place. Sadly, it probably got taken to a dump =(
posted by jesiah at 1:17 PM on November 14, 2013


I present this deeply amazing and ultra-mod 1968 short film from Westinghouse .

Now I have to dance while I DIY?!

I give up.
posted by vitabellosi at 1:20 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Westinghouse film was amazing. Wallpaper the fridge for every holiday! Was that Contact paper or what?

More fun with GM and Frigidaire plus a bonus clip from Monsanto's plastic house. Mmm, plastic.

Then again, I remember my grandmother cooking us breakfast on a wood stove when we visited the old family home in the summers. The big deal was when my uncle built her a summer kitchen addition with regular appliances. It was relatively recently in history that people had been wired for electricity and had nice indoor plumbing. When I was a kid, my dad bought an old farmhouse with no furnace, and a two seater outhouse in the ell. I remember sitting around the stove for a few weeks until he got the furnace installed, and even worse, going to the outhouse in November. And that was an indoor outhouse in an unheated barn hallway.

The sheer amount of drudgery before all this modernization was unbelievable. But I don't know that the videos portray the entire story, no. My dad changed diapers but since they didn't use birth control, for my mom to work outside the house when they had 5 kids would have been highly impractical. But she did work when we got older. And yes, she was always dressed nicely and had her hair done and wore makeup. And she was incredibly thin, like the woman in the video.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 1:21 PM on November 14, 2013


Was going to link to video of the Future Kitchen from EPCOT's long-lost Horizons...

Since you went there, let's all visit Horizons Resurrected.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:57 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now I have to dance while I DIY?!





There are people who don't dance when they DIY?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:59 PM on November 14, 2013


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