Rhodri Marsden's interesting objects: The AGA cooker

The AGA was designed by a Nobel Prize winning physicist, Dr Gustaf Dalén

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* "I have always designed for the market… Private and personal aesthetics are out of place in industrial design." So said Douglas Scott, whose work is celebrated at next week's Clerkenwell Design Week. Scott is probably best known for his work on London's classic Routemaster buses, but he also played a significant role in the construction of the AGA cooker.

* The AGA's history is replete with oddities: the fact that it was designed by a Nobel Prize winning physicist, Dr Gustaf Dalén, that he did so after being blinded by an explosion while working on an earlier invention, and that David Ogilvy, part-inspiration for Don Draper in the TV series Mad Men, cut his teeth on the AGA project. He penned "The Theory And Practise Of Selling The AGA Cooker", a pamphlet lauded decades later by Fortune magazine as "the best sales manual ever written". It explained how AGA salesmen need "the manner of a spaniel, the tenacity of a bulldog – and if you have any charm, ooze it."

* AGA Heat began making cookers for the UK market in 1929, but when the company was bought by Allied Ironfounders in 1935, it found itself up against the Thermecon, Allied's own oven. WT Wren, the AGA's main cheerleader within Allied, didn't rate the Thermecon; he decided to spruce up the AGA with the help of a hot-shot design team, of which Scott was a part.

* There was no radical overhaul; Scott's colleague Carl Otto was quoted as saying: "The darned thing looks like the Bank of England, you charge a lot for it – why not leave it alone?" The refined "Model C" was the result of their work; Scott went on to design luggage for

Papworth, radios for Rediffusion, and a wash basin that ended up in New York's Museum Of Modern Art.

@rhodri

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