Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Much Wider Range


Here's some awesome appliances from a company called Elmira Stove Works.  Now, this may seem ridiculous at first glance, but what really impresses me concerns the idea of context.

Let's say you buy a house built in 1952, and it looks it.  Most people of age to purchase and renovate a home aren't going to want it to look like the inside of a kitschy antique store.  But with Mid-Century Modern becoming so wildly popular, there are obviously a lot of contemporary pieces out there to give you the right feel, but also remain extremely classy.  Maybe you reserve the kitsch for a fun table lamp or vase as merely an accent piece.  Even a brand new bathroom can have the right lines and color palette appropriate to the house.

Kitchens, on the other hand, are continually in an extremely ironic rut.  Ironic because the rut is being mired in the continuously "new."  Everyone wants a brand new, freshly renovated kitchen.  It's probably one of the key selling points of any property.  So kitchens, being always newly renovated, continue to be out of time, out of context for the homes in which they end up.  For sure you could buy fancy new appliances and have them custom retrofitted at great expense in a more appropriate style, but there's enough other things to worry about in a kitchen renovation, which can take literally months of aggravation and tens of thousands of dollars.  I assume only the most obsessive compulsive renovator would bother with such an appliance project.

Well, here's the answer.
There's a microwave, too, but that's a pretty unrealistically space-age feature in 1952:
(I think they were invented in the late-1940s, if I'm not mistaken).

These are fully functional, modern appliances that make a great deal more sense in this hypothetical 1950s house.  I started out with the white ones, because they're the least flashy.  When you get into the 1950s pastels, it starts looking a lot more dated, even comical:
The website mentions family rooms/ game rooms, and these colors might indeed be way better suited--and extremely fun--for those types of rooms than the main kitchen of a house.  They also have a matching range hood, by the way, and a dishwasher front panel that will fit a number of different manufacturers' models.

Going back yet further, the same question arises if you're to purchase a house built in 1902.  Their Antique line is fully modern appliances that mimic those of that era:
This is evidently how Elmira started, making wood-burning ranges for Mennonites--who can't use electric or gas?  And then began fitting them with other fuel types and so on in the 1970s.

I'm not quite as crazy about the refrigerators in this line, because it doesn't really make any sense:
In this context, I think you'd be far better off having a new fridge paneled and hardwared to look like an old icebox (which they could certainly start manufacturing themselves, but oh well).

The wall ovens, on the other hand, are extremely cool:

I really hope they do a 1930s line next.  Kitchens were never quite as fabulous as they were in the age of streamlining.

©2008, Ryan Witte

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