Designing and Testing the USDA Kitchens
The professionals of the Bureau of Home Economics used established work principles and practical experience gained in their laboratories to develop kitchen design plans that would be efficient and functional for the public.
The film, "A Step-Saving Kitchen" documented some of the steps taken in this process:
Different kitchen counter heights were tested by Bureau staff to determine which ones were optimal for comfort and performance.
Lenore E. Sater, Housing and Equipment Specialist in the Bureau of Home Economics and co-author of "A Step-Saving U Kitchen," is shown here with a USDA carpenter conferring on a kitchen cabinet design.
Bureau staff would produce drawings of kitchen designs that would be:
...transformed into working plans and ...
A Step-Saving U Kitchen (1949), p. 2
...fully realized in working models at their USDA laboratories in Beltsville, Maryland:
Bureau staff would then test the models as they engaged in the normal kitchen tasks of food preparation, cooking, and cleaning.
Design changes would be made based on the findings of the work done in the laboratory.
Alternate designs were prepared for those homemakers who required accommodations based on physical differences. These designs were codified in a particular set of models termed "The Beltsville Kitchen-Workroom With Energy Saving Features."