Swedish architects design stove for Kenya

Baker Cookstove
© Claesson Koivisto Rune via Designboom

Claesson Koivisto Rune are TreeHugger favorites, designing best-of-show lamps, air purifiers, prefab houses and chairs. Now they are trying to address a serious problem in Africa: the wasteful, dangerous and inefficient way people cook. The traditional way, sitting a pot on three stones and building a fire under, uses a lot of wood and puts out a lot of smoke and particulate.

Top Third Ventures went to Claesson Koivisto Rune to design a stove that "looks good, feels good and makes them proud." The architects tell Designboom why it looks the way it does:

To hand out functioning – but crude and cheap – cooking tools to 'the poor' is commendable but condescending. would I myself really appreciate a cheap and ugly tool offered to me because it 'works and improves my life'.

It appears to be a form of rocket stove, dozens of which have been designed and proposed for use in Africa to use less wood and produce less smoke. They can be made of a lot of different materials;

stoveKelly Rossiter/CC BY 2.0

Kelly saw one made of cement, built into a house in Kenya, that also uses very little wood and burns relatively cleanly.

architects Claesson Koivisto Rune at ICFF / Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

I am going to assume that this stove doesn't actually work better than any of the other rocket stoves we have shown. Does design make a difference? Will its design increase the rate of acceptance among people who have often rejected non-traditional stoves? It is an important question; Sami discussed it two years ago, quoting an expert:

There have been thousands of stoves programs; I'm familiar with hundreds of them," says Bryan Willson, a professor of mechanical engineering at Colorado State University. "And it's hard to identify programs that have been successful." Willson says it's time to bring 21st century capitalism to bear. "There's a global need for 500 or 600 million cookstoves," he says. "And nobody is willing to write a big enough check to donate our way to that solution. So we really need to be able to develop products that people will want to buy.

I love CKR's attitude that "as designers we need to put the same effort into an African stove as were we designing an Italian sports car." Perhaps this is the one that will catch on, but I think in Africa I would rather have a Land Cruiser.

claesson koivisto rune: baker cookstove for developing countries from designboom on Vimeo.

Swedish architects design stove for Kenya
Claesson Koivisto Rune are architects of everything from prefabs to lamps. Can they solve a huge problem in Africa?

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