The Electrolux Assistent: a distinctive, Nordic design classic
Now treasured and handed down as a family heirloom from generation to generation, the Electrolux Assistent food processor has become a national favorite in Sweden.
In 1939, Electrolux gave Swedish designer and engineer, Alvar Lenning, the task of converting a professional restaurant kitchen device into a smaller, more compact gadget that would be convenient for domestic use. Few would have suspected that it would become one of the company’s most durable products, praised both for its sturdy reliability and design. The beige bodywork, the distinctive bell-shaped, metal bowl, unique velouté blades and the sleek, slightly retro look are instantly recognizable. Lenning is an unsung hero of Swedish design.
This success story had an inauspicious start. When it was launched in 1940, Europe was in the depths of war, rationing was widespread and raw materials were hard to obtain to produce a new kitchen device. Queues were long and only a lucky few could purchase an Assistent. Those with a disability who could provide a doctor’s certificate and evidence that that the device would improve their quality of life were entitled to a more rapid delivery.
A cookbook of wartime recipes was always included, a tradition that continued long after rationing had ended. The lucky owners soon realized the many culinary possibilities which were now open to them. As an ad from 1944 proclaimed, it could whisk, mix, knead, mash, chop, crush, slice, mix, grate and puree the ingredients. It could even stuff sausages!
Then in the post-war period, sales boomed. In a brilliant PR coup, the celebrated poet (and future Nobel Laureate), Harry Martinson, bought model number 100 001 as a Christmas present for his wife, Ingrid. Here was the ultimate confirmation of success on the domestic market. Assistent rapidly became the counterpoint in any modern, Swedish, post-war kitchen.
Click here to learn more about the Swedish-made Ankarsrum mixer.