History of the Stove

History of the Stove

Following our History of the Kitchen, we thought we’d take a look at the history/evolution of the various aspects and appliances of what now constitute the modern kitchen. This week we are following the evolution of the modern stove.

Your basic gas range
…or a $100,000 range, which might be out of your range…it’s made of gold and it cooks gold

 Earliest Stoves

Asian civilizations created ovens that totally enclosed the cooking fire much earlier than Western civilizations; China, Korea, and Japan had clay stoves by 200 BC:

ancient clay oven

Europeans, on the other hand, were using open fires to cook, from the dawn of man up until the Middle Ages, which was less advantageous than using an enclosed stove (open fire cooking is dangerous – you can easily burn yourself, a lot of the heat escapes so you need more fuel to cook, and the food does not cook as evenly as in an enclosed oven).

Then in the Middle Ages, the hearth started becoming the center of peoples’ home and family life. The hearth was usually waist high and made of stone, with a chimney, or simply a hole in the ceiling, above it to funnel out the smoke from the fire. As Europeans attempted to improve their hearth stoves, they built brick and mortar walls on three sides of the fire, and covered the front with an iron plate.

Enclosing the Fire

Enclosing the fire had the additional benefit of containing the smoke (at least to some extent). Inventors continued to improve wood burning stove, and by the mid-1700s, cast-iron stoves started to become popular, the first of which may have looked something like this:

note the smoke pipe on top, pots and skillets could be placed on top

These stoves all still burned wood; coal didn’t become a viable fuel source until 1833, when Jordan Mott invented the first practical coal-burning stove.


Gas, and Electricity

Gas stoves were invented in 1826, but it wasn’t until the 1920s when enough houses had gas lines that gas stoves could really catch on. Similarly, electric stoves had been available since 1890, but did not catch on until the 1920s and 1930s.

funky gas stove

retro electric

The stove, now

Every modern dog breed, from the Chihuahua to the Great Dane, was bred from domesticated wolves (or, speaking contentiously, dogs came from a ‘wolf-like common ancestor’):

we are the same, You and I

Similarly, today there is a myriad of stoves derived from our early ancestors cooking over a campfire. There are giant ranges for industrial kitchens, and there are tiny propane camping stoves that fit in a backpack.

industrial range
camping stove

I’ve cooked deer sausage in a duck blind in the winter, and we have all grilled outside on a BBQ grill, powered by coal, propane, or even wood. In Mexico, they cook tortillas outside on a Patsari stove:

fueled by wood, coal, or dung

There are solar ovens that you set up outside, and they focus light form the sun. They get hot enough to cook a pizza:

this pizza is powered by the stars

A hamburger place in Boston, Louis’ Lunch, has been open since 1895, and has been credited by some as possibly having invented the hamburger. They are open to this day and still use 3 upright stoves from the 1890’s to cook their burgers:

Louis’ Lunch broilers

Nowadays, most peoples’ (well, people in America) stoves look like this:

this is a stove

But, like all the diverse breeds of dogs, there are countless unique stove designs and models. We have come a long way from cooking food on sticks over a camp fire, but our stoves and ovens still are essentially designed to meet our basic needs: to cleanly and efficiently cook our food in as safe a manner as possible.

Lighting Design: We’re not designing around light bulbs anymore!

 Let There Be LED Light


“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”                                              


Plato said that 2,500 years ago. In 2014 we urge you to shed your fears of innovative lighting solutions and bold light and lamp design; 2014 will be the year of the stylish LED.

hanging  LED overhead light

We are always speccing lights for clients here at Ourso Designs, and lately we have been captivated by the lights over at Lightology.

this one mimics the classic light bulb shape, the LED bulb is actually inside

 We have been encouraging clients to consider LED lights due to their energy efficiency, long lifetimes, and most importantly, their flexibility in design. You will notice that all of the lights we are showcasing in todays blog are radically different designs, and they all use LED lights. At Lightology’s website, you can even order a custom LED soft strip.

in all shapes and sizes

One of the most interesting part of LED lighting is that the design is not focused centrally around the bulb.  The design itself becomes to key feature, while the lights are worked into it.

spinning to infinity

 Some of these lights can be pricy, however. This next one is on sale at $111,995!

a costly mobius strip

a space odyssey oddity

These are just some of the awesome designs from Lightology’s website.  If you haven’t made the jump to LED lighting yet, think about it. The technology is so flexible that you can find a light design that will fit into any floor plan or design scheme you can dream up.

literally flexible


The Future of Light

Lights have been designed around the light source itself for years. This won’t be happening in the future. You can see this fact reflected in the pictures of lamps and overhead lights above: having a large, roundish bulb attached somewhere to the light being designed is no longer necessary. Now the lights fit into the design, not the other way around; function doesn’t have such a stranglehold on form these days, at least when it comes to light design.



hand in hand we march into the future