by Pedro Monteiro
It might sound strange at first, but the impact of Taylor's ideas went way beyond factory work and production! The attention for optimizing work activities was taken up by numerous others, the Gilbreth couple perhaps being the most famous ones. Indeed, they conducted series of time and motion studies, using film usually, to investigate and redesign tasks in all kinds of settings. Lillian Gilbreth, in particular, applied this approach to domestic work in order to make it safer, more efficient and ergonomically appropriate – pioneering user-centered design in the process. If anyone ever said you cannot find the ‘one best way’ to bathe kids, they probably never raised 12 children! Lillian's ideas and patents include currently ubiquitous designs such as placing shelves inside refrigerator doors and equipping trash bins with a foot-pedal operated lid-opener. Most importantly, she originated the "kitchen work triangle" concept: the space connecting sink, cooktop and the refrigerator. If you have a kitchen with four walls it probably follows that pattern in one way or another!