Cole Forge

Wood stoves for space heating, cooking, and domestic hot water.

Wood stoves for space heating, cooking, and domestic hot water.

My Design Philosophy

I’ve been around product design for my whole professional life and I’ve had a lot of great mentors. I’ve also owned some examples of really bad design. I’ve boiled my product design philosophy down into five key themes that I use to guide the design process.

Sustainable

The big environmental win of my stoves is the fact that they’re displacing fossil fuel burners in people’s homes, but I try to focus on environmental friendliness in their design as well.

  • Embodied Energy - How much energy did it take to pull this material from the earth and get it to my workshop?

  • Toxicity - Could this material potentially be harmful to folks that are making it, using it, or recycling it?

  • Durability - Long-lasting products do less harm. More on this later.

  • Low Emissions - Ensure that fuels are burned completely and minimal particulate is emitted.

  • Recyclability - Select materials that are easy to reuse or recycle.

Honest

I don’t want my stoves to be mysterious, shiny boxes, full of marketing gimmicks and “revolutionary new technologies” that haven’t stood the test of time. I want them to be intuitive to use and transparent in how they’re built. I want folks to be able to walk up to one of my stoves and understand everything they need to know about running it in five minutes.

Their aesthetic won’t be flashy with stainless steel accents and 35 different colors of enamel coating. They won’t follow the latest trends in home fashion design. They will look just as “at home” in a 1800s farmhouse as they do in a brand-new house and that look won’t wear out in the next fifty years.

Durable

Unfortunately, we live in a world of disposable products. There are lots of stoves that are built with thin sheet metal that has been stamped out and hurriedly tacked together to meet a bottom line. They do their best to hide shortcuts in the manufacturing process and their stoves need to be replaced in a few years. The quicker their stoves fail, the more stoves they can sell.

When you buy one of my stoves, you should be thinking about handing it down to your children or grandchildren so that they can heat their home and cook their food with it. They are designed to last for decades, not just a few years. In the event that something does break, my products are simple and intuitive enough that any handy person can fix them with materials from their local hardware store.

Useful

There’s a principle of permaculture that I’m really fond of: each element of a system should serve as many functions as possible. I make design decisions to ensure that my stoves are as flexible and versatile as possible. A typical wood stove might only be good at heating your home. A typical range might only be good at sautéing food. My designs can be used for everything from drying your clothes to heating your water and baking your bread.

Innovative

My products aren’t on the bleeding edge of technological innovation, but they do tackle age-old problems in an innovative and clever new way. They also serve roles that you might not typically expect from a wood burning appliance. As my product line grows and expands, I’ll integrate appropriate new technologies to support my other four design principles.

The First Prototype

I’ve put a lot of blood and sweat (though luckily no tears) into my first prototype and I’m excited to share it with all of you! I learned a lot along the way and I’m confident that my next stove will be more refined and also much easier to build.

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The majority of the stove is built of thick plate steel, and though I didn’t have much space to work in, I put a lot of time and energy into the details and I’m pleased with how it came out.

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I’m in the process of conducting a wide variety of tests on the stove and, thus far, I’m really happy with how it is performing. The stove burns nice & hot, and it stores heat quite well.

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I’ve also been cooking a lot of tasty meals, so follow me on Instagram if you want to see the endless procession of fresh baked bread and gooey grilled cheese coming out of this culinary powerhouse.

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What’s Next?

I’m going to conduct another week or two of testing and then I’ll begin producing stoves for this winter’s testers. I’m hoping to have beta testing stoves produced and installed before Thanksgiving.