Chulha Goes Commercial

Philips has taken on this global design challenge with the humble chulha to make a better and healthier world for people to live in.

The Chulha found itself winning the Home category for the Danish-initiated Index Awards 2009.   The bi-annual award supports the INDEX mission to generate more design that improves quality of life all over the world.

Traditionally the chulha (Hindi) is a stove used for cooking using bio fuels such as wood or charcoal.

The conventional chulha has fueled concerns over ill-healths and subsequent deaths of millions, especially women and children. WHO estimates a 1.6 million deaths annually from Indoor Air Pollution (IAP) in which toxic fumes emitted from indoor cooking with “bio-mass” fuels.

Philips’ Philanthropy by Design unit has collaborated with ARTI (Appropriate Rural Technology Institute), to come up with a design to limit dangerous health conditions caused by traditions of indoor cooking in many rural areas of the developing world.

Dubbed as being innovative, sustainable, and a promotion of healthy cooking, the stove is being made available by Philips Design to the universe of social entrepreneurs so that they can, free of charge, produce the stove, themselves, and generate local business.

The award nominees were Unmesh Kulkarni, Praveeen Mareguddi Philips Design Team, India and Bas Griffioen, Simona Rocchi Philips Design Team, the Netherlands. According to Index,  the newer avatar of the Chulha promises to create a safer milieu for indoor cooking in several ways:

  • It traps smoke and heat inside a locally cast housing in such a way as to heat two pot-holes with a high rate of efficiency to require less fuel;
  • It then directs the smoke through a chimney chamber that includes a stack of slotted clay tablets – they capture particulates as the smoke moves through, cleaning the exhaust before it ever leaves the assembly; and
  • The Chulha’s chimney then includes an indoor access for cleaning, eliminating the need seen in previous devices for a family member,  usually the mother, to climb on the roof and attempt cleaning. This has been blamed for many accidents, along with the toxicity of the smoke.

Currently two models of the Chulha have emerged to accommodate different income levels: one version priced at 9 to 11 Euros (approximately AU$15 -$18 ) has a double oven and hotbox; a more expensive model, at 13 to 15 Euros (AU$22-$25 ), includes a steamer. Both stoves feature a  decorative pattern with a Desi-touch, which could be described in marketing terms as a lifestyle upgrade. After all, notes Rocchi, “Design solutions for poor people don’t have to be ugly.” 

When asked how he plans to spend 100.000 Euro on more design to improve life, Stefano Marzano, CEO and Chief Creative Director for Philips Design (who developed the Chulha) says that Philips Design will spend the award on further supporting the availability of the Chulha in India.

Wonder if the new avatar will reproduce ma ke haath ka khana (cliched reference to Hindi cinema) *wink??

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