What’s the difference between a house and a home? Aren’t they the same thing?
You can build a house with bricks and mortar but does it automatically become a home? I believe this transition only occurs once we inhabit them, fill them with our personal stuff and use it to express our personality and unique patterns of everyday life. The notion of home is full of meaning and emotional attachment and Juhani Pallasma (1994) raises an interesting concept that a house is just an architectural manifestation of space and only when humans imprint emotional changes and ties on that space does it become a place of meaning, a home.
After reading Pallasma’s ideas my thoughts instantly went to the kitchen space and how I consider the kitchen to be the heart of a home, especially mine. When we moved in to our house 8 years ago the first thing we did was change the kitchen. Due to it being an old house the kitchen was small and tucked away at the back but now as you walk in the front door it’s the first thing you see. It has enough space to accommodate all five of my family members plus two dogs three cats and the rest of our menagerie! Our home life revolves around the kitchen space. Every morning we meet in the kitchen to have breakfast, lunches are prepared and dinner is cooked. We have our own rituals and routines that make the kitchen a part of everyday life.
In terms of my dissertation I have narrowed down my focus to the spousal politics of the kitchen space. The kitchen has predominantly been a female space in society however this has changed rapidly since the 1950’s and men are increasingly entering and engaging with the kitchen space through the processes of cooking and domestic chores. I wish to discover the contemporary reasons for this and the impacts on the kitchen space, in particular the design and contents of the kitchen.
In order to kick start my research I carried out a placement with Truth, a cutting edge market research company. Initially I had hoped to conduct some research with them regarding my chosen topic and gather data that would contribute to my dissertation however this didn’t go according to plan! Even though I didn’t get any solid research, working with Truth provided me with more than I could have asked for. By working on projects my research and analysis skills were invaluably strengthened and I was provided with new and dynamic insight in to my project.
The first piece of insight I was given was unintentional. I was put on a project that was market research for Pic & Mix sweets. Nothing to do with the gendered kitchen space I know however an interesting trend came up in the data I was analysing which was the feeling of nostalgia. When focus groups were presented with old retro sweets such as drumsticks, black jacks and fruit salads people loved them due to their childhood attachment to them. They reminded them of the past, brought back fond memories and were comforting. Getting back on track, could this notion of nostalgia be applied to the kitchen space too? I plan to look in to what influences how men and women create their own kitchen space and if they are influenced by the kitchens in their old family homes. This could potentially materialize through the kitchen layout, design features or technology and appliances chosen.
Another route I am interested in following is the influences of advertising and media on the gendered kitchen space. After looking at an interesting research project done on fridges by Truth one particular advert from the 1950s caught my attention.
This fridge advertisement from 1953 is directly aimed at women. It even claims that women will be able to sleep better at night knowing their food is kept fresh!
Men buy refrigerators But women have to use them!
Advertisements for kitchen appliances in the 1950’s where aimed at housewives. Over time society has changed and women have moved in to the workplace and no longer are ‘expected’ to be the home thus resulting in a shift in advertisement tactics. Rather than concentrating on the functionality and practicality for women in the kitchen the sleekness of design seems to have become the main focus and how it fits in to the kitchen space with no direct aim at a particular gender but the entire household.
Contemporary Samsung Fridge Advert