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K-42 kettle

Page history last edited by Oliver Browne 11 years, 8 months ago





The K-42 Kettle



Designed in the post world war 2 era by Fred Moffatt, who is arguably one of Canada's first industrial designers. This "truly Canadian" piece represented a giant leap in the relationship between design and functionality in the mid 50's.  it was one of the first production pieces that used an existing mold/die in it the construction of its form rather than manufacturing the entire piece from scratch. The designer recycled a headlight from a pre-war car, which was flipped over to create the basis of the design for a usable kettle.


After the war, the west underwent a change of general lifestyle aesthetic. It was the beginnings of "the new American dream", where every family had a house with a lawn, a white picket fence and most importantly, a car. The automobile and the post war days of cheap oil gave birth to the blissful suburban lifestyle. At this time there was a shift in the spirit of the American dream, from the pioneering spirit that encouraged creation and hard individual work, to the spirit of consumerism which promoted mass production and easy living, where everything is available to everyone.


 Fred Moffatt was ahead of his time when he created the world's first marketable electric kettle in 1940. The world was at war and the need for efficient means of mass production was at the fore. Moffatt saw a need for this in everyday life and designed his kettle accordingly. Fred was initially inspired by a war engineer who out of necessity boiled water in the back of a headlight from a car (the same kind that moffat designed his from) . His methods of molding and mass producing a sleek and functional product would inspire many changes in the design aesthetics of the time.









Web References:


-Toronto Life: Art & entertainment guide


-The Canadian Design Resource


-The Star, Fred Moffatt Obituary



Comments (7)

Blair said

at 11:46 pm on Oct 8, 2009

I really like the the reflection in that shot

Itzel said

at 3:38 pm on Oct 11, 2009

but what are the women and the man at the right side doing? Are they holding hands or what?

CLO said

at 4:09 pm on Oct 11, 2009

Goodness, I remember my parents and grandparents having a kettle like that when I was a kid. :) When I see that shiny metal, it reminds me of polishing the silver for my Nan, sitting, chatting having a cup of tea in England. Chrome and metal/brushed steel kitchen appliances have come back in the past few years. Even electric kettles with that look. It is a classic design, cool how it came about from a flipped over headlamp.

Itzel said

at 5:42 pm on Oct 11, 2009

If this kettle was made from recycling a headlight of a car, then maybe you can talk about how this object influenced the designs nowadays like recyclable objects and recyclable packaging and environmentally sustainable designs that are sold in the market today. I don't know if this was the very first product in history to be made from recycling but you can research more about it. And even if this wasn't the first one, the concept or idea or reuse was present there.

Blair said

at 7:43 pm on Oct 12, 2009

Is there any significance to the title of K-42?

Christopher Swift said

at 10:55 pm on Oct 12, 2009

Have you looked into why they used a recycled headlight mold? Look at the year it was made, think about what was going on in the world at that time.

Oliver Browne said

at 2:23 pm on Oct 19, 2009

I have looked and looked and I can't find anything pertaining to the significance of the title :'(

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