The Expert Interview
To get up to speed quickly on the new IDEO.org cookstoves project, the team is interviewing a variety of industry experts, including stove designers, testers, funders, implementers and manufacturers. These expert interviews are a key component in the "hear" stage of human-centered design.
Improved cookstoves have been around for about 40 years and there have been a considerable amount of research and engineering put into it. There have been three waves of enthusiasm around cookstoves: the first one in the 70s, the second one in the 90s and we are in the midst of the third one - hopefully the one that will yield the most tangible results.
To get up to speed quickly we've been interviewing a variety of experts in the cookstove industry. We've talked to stove designers, testers, funders, implementers and manufacturers to understand the landscape of this space and set the baseline for our research insights.
We've been learning heaps: from the mechanics behind carbon financing and how it can be a fundamental component for cookstoves projects to the rigorous emission testing that is going to become the backbone for a set of much needed standards for clean cookstoves. We've heard that the stoves should be manufactured locally to create local employment and ensure cultural appropriateness. Interestingly, we've also heard the opposite: quality and price point through mass production are the only way forward. Beyond the world of cookstoves, a food scientist helped us understand the basic underlying science behind cooking and the role that heat can play.
As we get ready to depart for Tanzania, I keep on thinking back to the conversation we had with Dean Still of Aprovecho. Having worked for more than 30 years in cookstoves, he believes that the most effective way to make an impact in this sector is to work with small local entrepreneurs that have already figured out their market, distribution and manufacturing. He advocates helping them improve their cookstoves from both an engineering standpoint (efficiency, emissions, & manufacturing cost) and a design standpoint (appeal).
What is (or will be) the impact of your project?
We were able to collect a large quanity of in-depth and technical information about cookstoves in a short period of time. This information will be invaluable when we hit the field in Tanzania.