Friday, September 16, 2016

The Dish-Draining Cabinet

This year was the 120th anniversary of the birth of Maiju Gebhard.  I bet you don't know who she was. 

She was the Finnish inventor of a dish draining cabinet/cupboard (though similar inventions were earlier patented in the US by Louise R. Krause in 1932 and Angiolina Scheuermann in 1929).  Here's one picture of what a dish draining cabinet is:

By Jarno Elonen - photo taken by Jarno Elonen, Public Domain,

The doors close, and the cabinet is right above the sink area.  Note the plastic-covered metal grids which create the bottoms of the racks.  They allow someone washing the dishes by hand to just put them into the cabinet and then close the doors.  No drying is necessary, and, indeed, the everyday dishes can just live in the cabinet, to be taken out of it when needed.

The dish draining cabinet became common in Finnish households, though not elsewhere.  Its industrial production began in 1948 and the plastic-covered metal wire grids were introduced in 1954.  The sizes were standardized in the early 1980s.

The introduction of the dishwasher made the dish draining cabinet less useful, of course.

This story is an example of the era when some women began studying the ergonomics of housework and tried to rationalize and reduce the labor of housewives. 

But I also like it because the dish draining cabinet or cupboard probably didn't cost much more to build than the ordinary kind of cabinet, yet saved labor for years to come (by making drying by hand unnecessary and by saving steps because the cabinet was right above the sink).  It might have even been more hygienic than the practice of drying dishes by hand.

Besides, there's a "duh, that's obviously a good idea!" feeling about the whole thing.