Cooker Design

While gas-cooker manufacturers tended to be more innovative in design terms than their electric-cooker counterparts during the interwar period, the time lag was much shorter. After 1920, gas and electric cookers gradually evolved their own identity through the use of new materials and surface finishes. Manufacturers began to apply vitreous enamel, which had previously been used sparsely on splashbacks and cooktops, to all surfaces, outside and inside. Although mottled black enamel was used in conjunction with white, mottled grey enamel and white enamel became more common, as a visible break from the traditional black-leaded range. In the 1930s, other colors, such as mottled blue and green, were also popular. Aside from its appearance, the great advantage of the enameled surface was that it was easily cleaned. By 1930, the typical gas or electric cooker stood on four short legs and consisted of an oven, surmounted by a grill compartment, and a cooktop with between two and four boiling rings.

Sheet steel, which was light and more flexible, was available in the 1920s, but was too expensive to be used extensively. The pioneer of the sheet steel cooker was the American designer Norman Bel Geddes, who produced the Oriole cooker design for the Standard Gas Corporation in 1932. Sheet steel was a logical choice for Bel Geddes who, as an advocate of streamlining, sought materials that could provide a seamless profile. The construction process entailed the clipping of bendable sheets to a steel chassis rather than the bolting of rigid plates to a cast-iron frame. The Oriole cooker in white porcelain-enameled steel was notable for its rounded edges, flush front with plinth, and folding splashboard cum tabletop. The plinth served the dual purpose of inhibiting the accumulation of dust and food debris under the cooker and providing storage space. The full-line cooker with a warming drawer below the oven became standard by the 1940s. In Britain, the first white steel gas cooker was the Parkinson Renown, designed for the 1935 George V Jubilee House and produced commercially from 1937. The use of sheet steel encouraged the standardization of core components, which could then be assembled in different combinations, and this standardization lowered production costs.