Homes and appliances should be designed by those who use them.

by | Life

Here’s the thing… I was cleaning the stove again, which is NOT a favourite job of mine, because it’s poor design makes it difficult to clean, and it never actually looks clean once it’s done, which is of course exaggerated by the readiness of cooking to have it looking grottier by the second. The main design faults might look like simple oversights to the modern unpaid housekeeper, because surely they wouldn’t design it this way on purpose, but I have to wonder if ANY of these designers have cleaned a stove in their lives. Granted, there are some improvements: unlike the older stoves, which had a pit where liquids pillages and overflows went (this being the part of the stove that often got covered in aluminium foil because it was impossible to clean), now there are some slightly raised edges surrounding the gas hob, and a tall wall around the centre where the top thingy that the flame peeks around sits upon. This is a HUGE improvement! Most spills are therefore on the flat base, and a flat surface is far easier to clean. The sparker which starts each flame (awesome invention that) is also raised high and covered with a part, as is the outlet for the flame, so these rarely need cleaning! Well done with those! The cast iron covers on which the pots sit are also nice and strong, easy to remove, and on my stove they extend across the entire flat surface. I have yet to figure out how to clean these easily as they scratch any sink you put them in quite badly, so maybe more rounded corners might help, but thankfully they tolerate being just wiped down most of the time.

Here’s where my compliments end. Everyone knows there was good reason for the largest of the pot warmers to be coupled with the smallest, or even having them off-set, was so that the largest had enough space around it. Apparently the designers of my stove skipped that and went with some odd aesthetic which puts the biggest in the corner, sided by two mediums. That’s a step backwards because I can’t actually fit the large pot beside a medium one. Never mind the raised edge surrounding that hub being so close to the actual raised edge of the stove that it requires a toothpick to clean it! It gets worse though… One of the knobs (front right of the picture) is actually heat stressed because of this problem pushing the heat further forward than intended. Furthermore, there are these wonderful rubber thingies surrounding the hole into the self-contained box under the bench, and they do the job of preventing yucky messes from going down into the box. No idea if they work, because I can’t get into the box, but if you try to wipe them, they shrink into the space under the stovetop, requiring a toothpick to carefully remove them. They also respond the same way when I try to remove them for cleaning. The little symbolic pictures that say which knob goes with which hub MUST be more difficult to remove than stove grime. Better still, putting two of the four slightly forward would negate the need for them at all on our stove. Lastly, I’m suitably unimpressed with the surface. I’ve found it rather difficult to find what to clean it with, and as its stainless steal, I’m using the pot cleaner for it. Nothing else I tried got everything off, and some things I tried put irreversible scratches on it. The brushed finish just doesn’t come up in the same way the shines surface of my pots does. It is a surface that works great for the dishwasher and the door handles, but as soon as it has to deal with oil and grease in high quantities, it loses its appeal. For those who have stoves like this, boiled water poured over the surface, then a little stainless steel cleaner actually gets most grime off easily, something I discovered by trial and error. Maybe there is some scientific reason they have used a brushed surface, but if it’s a fashion thing, I’d like to kill that as much as I wanted to do with the brown and orange of the 70s. It just NEVER looks good!

If I was to design a home and appliances I would do these things differently:

  1. Everything should have removable parts unless it is more then a finger surrounded by a cloth apart. I’m so over cleaning with old toothbrushes and toothpicks. These things were intended for teeth, NOT house cleaning.
  2. No fixed furnishings should have a gap smaller then the width of the average cleaning mop.
  3. The materials used for fashion reasons rather then cleanability should be reserved for the top of the range appliances. There will always be fools with enough money to buy them for that reason. Practicality should be at the affordable end.
  4. No one should EVER use white grout. The darker the better, or you might as well just make it yellow to begin with.
  5. Speckled carpet should ALWAYS be in fashion. The plains of today will show up every spec like its a target.
  6. All electronics need over-ride buttons for when the kids disappear with or destroy the remote control. Hide them on the back of the T.V if you must, or behind a plastic panel, but please put them back on!
  7. Include cleaning instructions for all appliances and electronics. Otherwise, how do we know?
  8. Cover over small holes wherever possible, or include the option in parts, because children post things, all sorts of things…
  9. ASK those who will use AND CLEAN each product to try them out and report back. No one person who never cooks can design a good stove, especially if they have never cleaned it.
  1. Put practicality before aesthetics. If you are good enough at design both can be incorporated.

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Please be respectful of others at all times. We are all on different journeys.

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