Design Notes: the KitchenAid mixer

Mix it up with an iconic design – the first household mixer

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To mark the brand’s centenary, KitchenAid has launched the Artisan stand mixer in a new colour, Misty Blue, complete with textured white bowl

“I don’t care what you call it, it’s the best kitchen aid I’ve ever had!” These fateful words, spoken by an employee’s wife as she road-tested a newfangled household mixer in 1919 – the very first of its kind, with a unique ‘planetary’ action – neatly captured the appliance’s appeal, and gave it its name.

Egmont Arens

Egmont Arens

It was an Ohio engineer, Herbert Johnston, who had originally come up with the concept after observing the arduous work bakers had to endure when mixing dough with a heavy metal spoon. His initial design for a stand mixer in 1908 would eventually be refined to bring it down in size and weight, but it wasn’t until 1937 that Egmont Arens, a talented industrial designer (who had been the editor of Creative Arts and Vanity Fair in the 1920s), struck upon the most iconic version.

The tilt-head K-model, unlike its more industrial-looking predecessors, had a streamlined aesthetic reminiscent of the sleek automobiles of the day. Its rounded head tilted back for easy access, simplifying the process of changing over attachments and promising a far less labour-intensive kitchen appliance.

However, in order to appeal to American consumers en masse, the KitchenAid needed to stand out from the crowd, and so in 1955, in a radical move for the time, four new colours – Sunny Yellow, Satin Chrome, Island Green and Petal Pink – were launched alongside the original white. It was a stroke of genius, and one that the company has repeated many times over the years; even today the Artisan stand mixer comes in a wider range of colours than any of its rivals.

So it seems fitting that a new shade should be added to the line-up to mark the brand’s centenary. Misty Blue is a cool, pastel tone with the same retro feel as those early 1950s colours. The design is finished off with a white hobnail ceramic bowl and a white trim that carries the 100 years logo.

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From left: The original 1919 KitchenAid model might have offered functionality, but its industrial looks did not appeal to the American housewives who were its target audience; With a sleeker, more tapered finish, 1937’s updated K-model was an instant success

As with all Artisan stand mixers, the limited-edition Misty Blue has the famous attachment-ready Culinary Hub with all its accessories for slicing, grating, peeling, juicing and even spiralising. It is robust and practical, but these are not the only explanations for why its popularity continues to grow.

From being endorsed by celebrated cooks such as Julia Child and Martha Stewart, to its prominent appearance in the likes of Great British Bake Off, not to mention the fact that it was one of the first appliances to be displayed in museums of modern art, the KitchenAid mixer has become a global icon. Of course, the true testament to its lasting appeal is in the fact that Egmont Arens’ original model is almost exactly the same as the mixer we can buy today.   

So with quality and performance guaranteed, the only real dilemma is in trying to decide which colour to go for…

KitchenAid-Archive-Advert-1950s

Marketed at the average American family, this 1950s advert spells out the mixer’s attributes

ATTENTION TO DETAIL

 

THE HISTORY Herbert Johnston’s revolutionary desire to ease the physically exhausting work done every day by bakers eventually became the first household mixer in 1919, before being updated to its current style in 1937 by Egmont Arens.

 

THE FINISH KitchenAid’s range has grown to include hand-held mixers as well as a series for professional cooks.

 

THE VERDICT While its functions have improved and expanded over the decades, the mixer’s sleek and tapered aesthetic is largely unchanged from that of the original model – proof that true style really does stand the test of time.

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