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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Kitchen of Tomorrow: 1954

Kitchen of Tomorrow: 1954

1954. "Harley Earl, General Motors Vice President of Design, in Frigidaire's 'Kitchen of Tomorrow' exhibit for the GM Motorama at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York." Large-format color transparency. View full size.

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The cabinets remind me of the kitchen table we bought in 1955 when I came out of the Army. The same ugly Formica although we thought it was quite nice at the time.


It still looks modern today, in my view. And what an upgrade from just 30 years prior.

The Man

A lot of people have been called "The Man". Harley Earl WAS The Man.

Kitchen Design?

Looks more like his GM corporate office.

What's he doing there?

Even before I read the caption, I thought, "That's Harley Earl - what's he doing in a kitchen?" Like Archfan, I see this being like a modern kitchen. On the left we see a water dispenser (though not incorporated into the refrigerator), a small color TV displaying a recipe, and a fully instrumented electric range. And I'm thinking that the brushed gray doors toward the right might be refrigerated cabinets.

[The "color TV" is some sort of microfilm recipe reader. You can see the "horizontal refrigerator" in action in this video. - Dave]

At the time, most of the automakers owned appliance makers. Besides GM's Frigidaire, there was Philco, owned by Ford, and Kelvinator, owned by American Motors. Chrysler's Airtemp made home air conditioning, and even International Harvester made refrigerators and freezers for awhile, targeting the farm families that bought their tractors and implements.

Modern but flimsy

Everything about that kitchen looks like it would fall apart with real use. Sure, it looks nice, but a few teenagers would destroy it in a month. And what's with the color swatches next to what looks like a microwave?

Back to the Future

It's amazing how modern that kitchen looks, even today. Like something out of the Ikea catalogue.

King Fin

Back in 1956, had I known he was the one responsible for tailfins on cars, I would have worshiped this man. My father took me to a GM Motorama at San Francisco's Civic Auditorium in 1955 or 1956; I wish my memories were stronger, but what remains is of being in a wonderland.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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