'LAZY SUSAN': THE AVANT-GARDE, WOMEN AND TAYLORISM IN THE CZECHOSLOVAK HOUSEHOLD
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In Czechoslovakia in the early 1920s, Taylorism was first and foremost an intellectual fashion in the circles of engineers gathered around Masaryk's Academy of Labour. After 1925, the Czech avant-garde drew on this source, among others, when it focused on questions of the rational organisation of apartment ground plans and the principles of functionalist architecture in general: typification, normalisation and standardisation. At the beginning of the 1920s, housewives also became interested in Taylorism. On the one hand, Taylorism found support in the tradition of patriotic women's movements that reached back to the 19th century. On the other hand, it was associated with the wave of interest in the American lifestyle and mass culture emerging at the end of the decade. In both cases, loyalty to the traditional division of roles for men and women was compensated for by the illusion that the housewife, in her rationalised kitchen, was actively developing the potential of the national economy. The cultivation of the ethos of the housewife helped to fuel this illusion, as did the suitable layout of the apartment and the outfitting of the 'domestic laboratory' with the latest inventions that would facilitate its communication with the surrounding world. Some of the propagators of modernity in the household also promoted the centralisation of domestic activities. Although they did not share the leftist views of the avant-garde gathered around Karel Teige, the housewives came up with original designs for the collectivisation of meals and washing. This widely accepted 'Taylorisation' of lifestyle in Czechoslovakia in the early 1930s became an instrument in the hands of the functionalists. The avant-garde, inspired by the German architect Bruno Taut, did not so much consciously direct the movement for rationalisation as use its successes in its strategy for seeking customers of modern architecture. At this time, however, the change in the existing social roles of men and women was no longer at the forefront of the interests of the avant-garde.
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