Design Moments: KitchenAid Model K food mixer c 1937

Its retro design chimed with gentle, almost quaint idea of home baking as a pastime

KitchenAid Model K food mixer: One of its key selling points was that the attachments could be used on any KitchenAid mixer

There can’t be many electric kitchen appliances that have barely changed in appearance in 80 years, so full credit then to the wonderfully named Egmont Arens (1888-1966) who designed the KitchenAid Model K food mixer. A creative genius, he moved seamlessly between journalism, advertising, and graphic and product design and in 1937 he was commissioned by the Hobart Manufacturing Company of Ohio to design a home mixer.

The company had the technology down but its previous food mixers, dating from 1919,  looked industrial, almost dangerous, to the housewives who would have to be persuaded to bring this new electric labour-saving gadget into their homes. His KitchenAid Model K was launched in 1937 and it looked as sleek and streamlined as the new cars of the era, its bullet-shaped head tilting back to allow for easy change-over of attachments.

The original KitchenAid Model K was only available in white and it sold well through hardware stores but also through Hobart’s army of female door-to-door saleswomen. Production was suspended during the second World War but once it resumed it quickly tapped in to the burgeoning US home consumer culture and the range of colours expanded to include Petal Pink, Sunny Yellow and Island Green. Since then the colour options expand almost year on year.

One of its key selling points was that the attachments could be used on any KitchenAid mixer – an inter-generational product design feature that appealed to thrifty buyers. Just as the hit BBC show The Great British Bake-off boosted home baking – it also boosted the sales of appliances used in the programme and for the first five years of the series, the mixer that stood at each workstation was a KitchenAid Model K.


Its retro design chimed in with the gentle, almost quaint idea of home baking as a pastime. Not that the BBC was able to advertise the fact – its rules forbid product placement – but the patented silhouette of the mixer is so distinctive that the brand was obvious to those in the know.

Indeed when the series returned for its new run in 2016 and the mixer wasn’t a KitchenAid – the producers had switched brands to Kenwood – it caused a storm on social media.