The Work Triangle: An Outdated or a Relevant Concept?

1940's Kitchen


Dating back to the 1940’s, the Work Triangle began from the rise of Taylorism, or the study of efficiency in the work place. At this time, the work place for women was still the house. The common house wife, if given her way, would have a state of the art kitchen with matching appliances, according to what was fashionable. In these kitchens there was less storage than today’s kitchens. This was due to having large amounts of food that was still “put up”. The average house wife would have a cellar or pantry with years’ worth of provisions on shelves or in deep freeze. The lack of technology also allowed her to have less storage, compared to today. In modern society, we have a gadget for everything, the Kitchen Aid stand mixer, the microwave, the toaster, the toaster over, the list can go on and on.  At this time the idea was to create a very utilitarian kitchen. The way the room was designed would assist the cook, allowing her to take only a few steps or a quick turn in one direction or the other to reach what she needed. In order to accomplished this, one must only design their kitchen with a few simple guidelines. In order to create your very own work triangle; each leg of the should be between 4-9 feet each, leaving the sum of the distance being no less than 13 feet and no more than 26 feet.

The Evolution of the Kitchen 

With the evolution of our society, there came the feminist movement. Having both parents working is something that today’s society doesn’t even think twice about. But due to this, the home dynamic has also changed, cooking is no longer a solo act but something that most families do together. The design of the kitchen has changed throughout the years in order to accommodate. What was once a closed off and secretive room that guests wouldn’t visit has now become a central hub of entertainment. The open concept house is growing in popularity. Having your kitchen, dining room, and living room open to each other makes the common area seem larger, while also being convenient for entertaining.

Work Triangle example-Recovered.jpg

So What Happened to the Work Triangle?

Many designers say that the work triangle is irrelevant, while others say that it has just evolved. As opposed to the original rules, the new work triangle has changed from the traditional triangle shape, to zones. Designers now think it best to section off the kitchen into different work zones, for example, the baking zone, this area would have everything that you might need to bake within its vicinity. This enables multiple people to work in one kitchen while having their own little work station and not disrupting anyone else’s flow.


Applying the Work Triangle into Your Life

When designing your own kitchen, you should think of the kind of needs that you require your kitchen to accommodate. Entertain a lot? An island would be a great way for you to prep your meal without having to stare at a wall, back to your guests. Cook frequently? Are your meals rather large? Having clear landing spaces from places like the oven, stove, and microwave will allow you to safely transfer hot dishes. Thinking of how you live as it pertains to your kitchen is important when designing your house as it really has become the heart the home, ensuring that it is personalized to your family’s needs is critical.