Finnish the Dishes

Dish rack

The dish drying rack.


  • The issues with dishwashing and drying the washed dishes
  • Maiju Gebhard worked on the fantastic design of the Astiankuivauskaappi.
  • The design is simple, practical, cheap and blends perfectly in the kitchen.
  • This week in Invisible History clue: "Little Boy." Domain: “World War II.”

One thing that I did mostly in this pandemic is the dishes. Yeah, that is except for the design work I usually do. Yeah, the same design work which made this article almost impossible to be released on the same day. Coming back to the dishes, it can become something that can be hectic. But there is another problem with the dishes which usually goes unnoticed— drying the dishes.

Sounds trivial, but it is a huge issue, especially with my mom. She hates the marks that are left on the dishes after they are kept to dry. We use an ordinary sink-side rack to dry the dishes. And there is an issue with it— the air draft.

Problems make perfect

The same issue that I saw was seen by Maiju Gebhard back in the 1940s. She's awesome! She calculated that an average household spends around 30,000 hours washing and drying the dishes in their entire lifetime. That is a huge number! There can be machines which can do the same, but that will add cost and space in the kitchen. Sink side racks take a lot of space and clutter the whole kitchen counter. Maiju Gebhard saw all this and got to work. Whereas, I saw all this and started writing an article.

Maiju Gebhard
Inventor Maiju Gebhard with an old dish drying closet.

The golden patent

Finnish architectural designs and furniture have always fascinated me. But as a design engineer myself, this solution is something that I feel is one of the best designs I've ever come across with! It is the "dish draining closet." It is also called the dish drying cabinet. The critical points of the design are that it is practical, cheap and literally invisible. So basically Finnish.

Dish Drying Cabinet patent
Dish Drying Cabinet patented by Louise R. Krause (US patent 1860617)

Louise R. Krause filed the first dish drying cabinet patent in the 1930s in the United States. It contained shelves that were relatively closer and kept the dishes in a compact space. The problem with it was the draining and draft of air through it. It left stains of water on the plates. (My mom would be so angry.) Eventually, it failed to gain traction.

The Astiankuivauskaappi

I also can't pronounce that name. But its design is fantastic! Maiju Gebhard in the 1940s developed a better version of the dish drying cabinet with the help of the Finnish Association for Work Efficiency. It was called Astiankuivauskaappi. It was a huge success. It was also built with the variations of steel and plastic later-on. Eventually, all the wooden racks were replaced by them.

The modern Astiankuivauskaappi.

Your turn now

I currently use an ordinary sink side cabinet without the racks to dry out the plates, and I feel like I've been living under a stone. It is a wonder why all the countries don't use the same rack cabinets to dry their dishes.

The Astiankuivauskaappi is one of the best designs on the scale of impact it has on households. It is also named as the most important Finnish invention of the 20th Century by the Finnish Invention Foundation. I showed this design and concept to my dad, and he was also amazed by it. I really think that this article doesn't do justice to the ingenuity of this design and therefore, highly recommend you to go online and research about it. I have included the links in the references as well. They are some fantastic reads.

This week in Invisible History

The answer to last week's history puzzle (A noble price for two in a group of three) is the Discovery of Insulin. In the early 1920s, Charles Best and Frederick Banting discovered insulin under the guidance of John Macleod. But only Banting and Macleod received the 1923 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. This caused more animosity. Banting, outraged by this, immediately announced that he would split his winnings with Best. Later Best also did the same. This was one of the most controversial moments for the Nobel Prize until then. On July 27th, this group successfully isolated the hormone insulin for the first time. Many of you tried answering and were very close. In the end, Siddharth Singh (Reddit) and Sachid Aggarwal (WhatsApp) guessed it.

Frederick Banting and Charles Best
Dr Frederick Banting and Charles Best successfully isolated the hormone insulin for the first time.

The clue for next week is something related to World War 2. And it will be relatively straightforward. The clue is "Little Boy." I hope WW2 enthusiasts already know the answer. You can write the answers to me in the comment section or on social media. I have left the links down below.

If you want to read more about such inventions, why not subscribe to the blog? And if you are really into it, follow us on social media. Feel free to share this article with your friends and family to show them how awesome you are!

See you next Saturday! Cheers!

  1. Reddit:r/theinvisiblegenius
  2. Instagram: @theinvisiblegenius
  3. Twitter: @notnitinchopra

Reference links

  1. Maiju Gebhard – astiankuivauskaapin kehittäjä :: Naisten Ääni
  2. "Finnish the Dishes: Simple Nordic Design Beats Dishwashers & Drying Racks" - 99% Invisible.
  3. Everyone Needs an Astiankuivauskaappi!
  4. This Finnish Cleaning Method Will Change the Way You Dry Dishes - Astiankuivauskaappi Cabinet
  5. Frederick Banting, Charles Best, James Collip, and John Macleod | Science History Institute


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