The majority of women in the developing world prepare food on a technology called a three-stone fire. It is basically three rocks that support a pot with an open fire in the middle. This cooking method is very inefficient and leads to many environmental and health problems. Another bad side effect is that children are denied education and future because they are ofteh sent to collect firewood instead of going to school.
Since the three-stone method is a tradition since thousand of years a new stove must allow the user to keep their way of life intact to be successful. Swedish design company Claesson Koivisto Rune worked in collaboration with Top Third Ventures on a solution to make a stove that burns wood, but as efficient as possible.
The result os a cookstove made of recycled aluminium and with a trapezoid folding that correspond to weight, heat transmission and sturdiness. They studied local methods of cooking, tools and containers to get inspiration and to gain cultural insight. As a result the final shape of the Baker Cookstove as well as its strong colours are reminiscent of traditional African cookware.
The cookstove is manufactured in Kenya.
The design approach has really been the same as with any design project. Design is about solutions – function, usability, unification – and about adding an immaterial – humane, aesthetic, iconic – dimension, says Mårten Claesson from Claesson Koivisto Rune.
The somewhat eye-opening obvious is that we all have an emotional relationship with our objects. The psychology is no different if you have less or have it all; if you relate to a basic cookstove in Africa or a high performance car in the streets of Europe. To hand out functioning – but crude and cheap – cooking tools to “the poor” is commendable but condescending, says Eero Koivisto from Claesson Koivisto Rune.
Would I myself really appreciate a cheap and ugly tool offered to me because it “works and improves my life”? Maybe that’s not good enough. As designers we need to put the same effort into an African stove as were we designing an Italian sports car, says Ola Rune from Claesson Koivisto Rune.