Last week I covetously posted on Bulthaup's "tool cabinet" for kitchens (above), which I'm in love with. Well, turns out the thoroughly modern piece of furniture has a rather antiquated antecedent: The Hoosier Cabinet (below), a kitchen workstation from the early 1900s.
In those early days of the last millenia, when more people starting moving into cities, apartments and especially tenements didn't come with built-in counters and cabinets. The Hoosier Cabinet--named for its original producer, the Hoosier Manufacturing Co. of Indiana--was the thing you needed. Cleverly thought out, Hoosiers were an impressive piece of industrial design from an era that arguably predated the term "industrial design."First off, it was space-saving. Dividing the top and bottom sections was a cool slide-out countertop that served as your work surface and cutting board, and once you slid it back in, the cabinet typically protruded only two feet from the wall.
Secondly, the drawers and cabinets weren't just empty boxes; they were specifically designed to provide both storage and working implements. They held fitted containers, bins, hoppers, spice racks, built-in flour sifters, grinders and the like, also produced by the Hoosier Manufacturing Co., in an early example of presenting an integrated product ecosystem.
Thirdly, the entire thing was mobile. Casters on the bottom of the legs allowed you to move the thing around, presumably for when you needed to accommodate more people on a cooking production line during the holidays or gatherings.
These days you can still find Hoosier Cabinets at tag sales and antique shops, and if you prefer to make your own, you'll find plenty of free plans online, like this one.