NZ Best Design Awards Winner – Fire for Life Product Design

Our Fire for Life initiative wins three awards at the NZ Best Design Awards

We are delighted to announce that our not-for-profit initiative, Fire for Life, won three awards at the NZ Best Design Awards held on Friday 6th October 2023 in Auckland – a Gold and prestigious Purple Award in the Public Good category, and a Gold Award in the Non-Consumer Product category.

As a leader in fireplace design and manufacturing, the recognition of the project is an honour, but more importantly helps raise awareness of a global issue, and the continuous journey of Fire for Life – an initiative that’s making a meaningful impact on the lives of thousands of families in the developing world by providing them with a more efficient and safer way to cook.

Photo: Troy Jolly (Design Engineer), James Fisher (CIO), Nigel Bamford (CEO)

Our CEO Nigel Bamford attended the Awards ceremony, with Troy Jolly in Auckland to personally receive the awards, expressing his appreciation for the acknowledgment, stating:

 “It’s an absolute privilege to be recognised for our efforts in creating positive change. With the skills and technology at our disposal, it just made sense to do something that could have a significant, positive impact and improve the lives of some people who have lost almost everything to war.  Creating a stove that could be made at low cost and can burn at twice the combustion efficiency than their current options, is one of the most challenging design tasks our company has ever undertaken”.

We welcomed the opportunity to hear from the judges why they felt the Fire for Life cooking stove was worthy of both Gold Awards and the prestigious Purple Award, learning from Judge Convenor of the Public Good category, Stephen McCarthy (DINZ) saying:

“What impressed us most about Fire for Life was its practical approach to a real-world problem that Escea solved in the simplest way. And it wasn’t just the design of the stove itself – every detail of the stove’s design and journey has been thoroughly thought through – from its flat-pack design for transportation, the use of manufacturing in off-peak times, to the assembly of the stoves by locals on the ground. The initiative digs deeper than what you see on the surface. It’s also awesome to see a South Island company making an impact globally.”

With Jesse Keith, Convenor for the Product Category commenting:

“An excellent example of applying one’s trade and tools to an unseen and unique problem on the other side of the planet. A kitset fireplace that easily ships and assembles yet integrates generations of knowledge to channel air and create efficient burning and is all achieved from a single sheet of material. The project embodies great design by solving an old problem, in a novel way.”

Where it all started

Smoke inhalation from open-fire cooking in the developing world is affecting millions of families every day. Existing cooking methods are unsafe, unhealthy, and inefficient, while access to fuel is often scarce and expensive. With the skills and expertise at Escea’s disposal, we set out to find a solution to this global problem.

Escea’s dedicated team of designers and engineers were committed to creating a safer, healthier, more practical, and efficient cooking method for those who only had an open fire to cook on.

The project team’s expertise in fireplace design and access to manufacturing allowed them to produce a portable, lightweight stove that uses a spiral air pathway to create a vortex of flame, ensuring efficient, smoke-reduced cooking. This innovative design allows families to cook quicker, consume less fuel, and is portable for easy camp relocation when required.

Mike Seawright, founder of New Zealand-based international humanitarian organisation ReliefAid, captured the attention of Escea’s CEO, Nigel Bamford while advocating their work on television.

The displaced families that ReliefAid are supporting in Syria have been forced from their homes, left only with a makeshift open fire to provide for their families. For them, one of the biggest issues they face is the access to fuel, the time it takes to collect it, and the cost of purchasing it.

With ReliefAid’s experience in addressing humanitarian crises like these, it was a natural step to partner with them to get the stoves to these families in need and help address one of the critical issues facing them.

Flat-packed in the Escea factory in Dunedin and shipped to the team at ReliefAid, the Syrian locals assemble the stoves and distribute them on the ground, which provides a source of income for them too.

Since 2021, nearly 5,000 displaced families in Syria have been able to cook more efficiently with Fire for Life stoves, and for us, this is only the beginning.

Our Journey Continues

It’s an absolute privilege to be recognised for our efforts in creating positive change.  

The Fire for Life project has only just begun – there are many more communities that require support across the globe and Escea aims to continue looking at how to service these people, delivering more and more stoves and continuing to help families in need.

Learn more about the Fire for Life project and how it is helping families.