When it comes to good design, we quite often take it for granted. One of the best examples of this is the dish drying cabinet – a shelving rack placed above the sink, with an open bottom and shelves made of steel wire or dowels to allow washed dishes set within to drip into the sink and air dry.
The origin of the idea is disputed but the concept was popularized by Maiju Gebhard (1896–1986), the head of the household department at the Finnish Work Efficiency Institute in the 1940s. Gebhard became a household teacher in Sweden in 1919, where she also discovered dish racks placed on the sink.
She worked as a counsel for the small farmers union for many years and during that time she calculated that a Finnish housewife spends over 30.000 hours of her life washing dishes, and the dish drying cabinet would save up to 50 percent of the time used.
The first drying racks, 135 and 100 cm wide, were produced out of wood by the Finnish Work Efficiency Institute in Vilppula, Finland in 1945 and the industrial production began in 1948 at the Enso-Gutzeit factory, with an updated plastic-coated steel wire model introduced in 1954. The drying cabinet was standardized in 1982 and it has since become an accessory in virtually every Finnish home. Among others IKEA nowadays features dish dryings racks in its range of kitchen series.
Maiju Gebhard dedicated her life to improving the work of Finnish homemakers. During the war, when the men were at the front and the women had to do the hard labour, she developed new tools and processes which helped make work easier. Examples of this is a shoulder support for carrying heavy goods and a indoor container for bio waste. The time saving measures not only made work lighter but also allowed families more time together.
- Maiju Gebhard
- Born 1896, passed 1986
- Gebhard wrote extensively about time saving measures in the home and published many books.
- Other who created their own versions of the dish drying rack: Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky (1926), Angiolina Scheuermann (1929) and Louise R. Krause (1932).
- Renowned for her dish drying rack placed above the kitchen sink. Her first notes date the idea to the late 1920s.