>Julia & Paul Child – Architects


We recently saw Nora Ephron’s new film, Julie and Julia. Among its many pleasures, it presents the loving partnership between Julia Child and her husband, Paul. There is a scene of Paul drawing the shape of pots and pans on the pegboard walls of their Cambridge kitchen. Turns out that kitchen, their 9th, was a collaborative work of design, even a work of art. I discovered a Design Quarterly publication from the Walker Art Museum on my bookshelf that I think I bought at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in the late 1970s that analyzes the design anatomy of her kitchen. The exploded axonometric view shows the interrelationship of the five main functional ares: kitchen/dining, cutting/mixing, cooking, pastry, and pantry. Each is filled with storage, counters, and equipment. There is a place for everything, and everything is in its place. There are more pictures of the kitchen at this great blog by the NY Times writer Mark Bittman here.

A little web research led me to discover that she donated her kitchen to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. There is a great web site here. In fact, there is a scene in the movie where Julie Powell and her husband Eric visit the kitchen in the museum. The Smithsonian realized the cultural, folkloric, and culinary importance of the kitchen. They document their acquisition and data collection in a great on-line diary here.

I remember brainstorming in my housing studio in architecture school on our favorite rooms in houses we grew up in. We all agreed the kitchens were the best rooms in the house. Julia put it best, “Make the kitchen a really important part of your home and I think it’s terribly important to have a family . . . For everone to eat together and if you had a nice room to do it in, this is where, this is the kind of place you would choose because it’s warm and friendly and smells good and it’s the place to live.”

Now there’s a goal to work toward. Some we’ll have a really workable eat-in live-in kitchen.


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