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20.03.2023 | Perspective

Icons: The Letter

Explore what it means to be an icon and what makes something iconic in this quarter’s Letter.



Rowen Dinsmore



Kate Swanson

Distinctive Excellence.


Is that, at the core, what it means to be iconic?


Join us as we go down a rabbit hole and explore what it means to be an icon and what makes something iconic in this quarter’s Letter.





What makes something iconic?


If this is where we begin, then let’s start by looking at what literally makes something, AKA, how is something constructed.


What is iconic construction?


What does it look like?


Feel like?


Function like?

In the cooking world there is nothing more iconic than fully-clad construction, the method of taking different metals, fusing them together, and using those combined sheets to create an entire cooking vessel, one that has a uniform blend of that optimal metal combo throughout. (This is how Stackware is made!)


Of course not all fully-clad construction is equal – and to create something that truly performs like an icon the thickness of the conductive layers are of the utmost importance. If this type of icon intrigues you, take a look at one of the first blog posts we wrote on the material properties of high performance cookware. It’s a bit of a nerdy deep-dive into materials engineering, but we think it’s fascinating and hope you’ll agree.

disc bottom vs. fully clad cookware diagram LEARN MORE about ENSEMBL Stainless Steel Fully Clad Stacking Cookware Set with removable handles. Learn what materials are used to make high performance and premium quality cookware and how the best cookware is made. Frying Pan, Braiser Pan, Small Saucepan, Medium Saucepan, Stockpot, Steamer/Colander. Multifunctional, long-lasting, design-forward home wares. Oven-safe cookware set. Induction-safe cookware set.

Beyond the stove, when we think of iconic construction we think of buildings.


Le Centre Pompidou – iconic for bringing the insides outside.


Nakagin Capsule Tower – an iconic exercise in the utmost space efficiency.


The Masters’ Houses Ensemble: Kandinsky/Klee Master House – an iconic architectural achievement of the Bauhaus. (Check out more of our favorites here).


And, if we think of construction on an even more micro level, we think about welding. Specifically, laser welding.


This is how we attach Stackware’s side brackets (Stackware has eschewed the common construction technique of rivets because they obstruct the interior of a pot or pan, and instead opted to weld the side brackets to each pan.) ENSEMBL does this by hand – a bespoke process to ensure the utmost security. It is worth noting that spacecrafts and aircrafts forgo rivets in lieu of laser welding, too. The process allows for a more streamlined design, and a reduction in the amount of sealing material required, which reduces weight significantly and reduces corrosion.

Le Centre Pompidou, Paris, France.
Le Centre Pompidou - ENSEMBL icons
Le Centre Pompidou, Paris, France.
Poul Henningson Danish lighting design ENSMBL icons
Poul Henningsen with his ‘Spiral’ ceiling light and PH-Lapmp, 1942.

Of course, icons can also be objects – things that have become iconic because of their design, the way their innovation shapes the future.


A personal obsession at ENSEMBL is the iconic design of Montreal’s staircases – literal steps to create more space to live in the heart of the city. (We love Montreal’s iconic staircases so much we made them into a cool block print and the design for our first kitchen Towel).


Another obsession – lighting. And we never tire of looking at the iconic creations from designers around the world, but for the sake of focus, we invite you to check out a roundup of some of our Danish favorites.


What was most striking as we spoke more about icons while writing this Letter were not just the number of great products, but the way iconic design spans the decades. We took this as an opportunity to put together a roundup of iconic products – those spanning the last 100 years of design. 




Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t give a nod to our own innovation – Stackware’s Removable Handle. While it is too early (and we’re too modest) to call this iconic, our hope is that the handle technology we created can be the starting point to change the way we think about our cookware, and the products we bring into our homes.

Poul Henningsen with his ‘Spiral’ ceiling light and PH-Lapmp, 1942.

What would a discussion of icons be without spending time looking at the people – past and present – whose contributions have forever altered the world.


We thought it would be fun to daydream about a dinner party of icons – Who would we invite? Where would we host? What would we serve? Check out our fantasy dinner of icons here.



Dream on with us. Icons. Forever.

ENSEMBL's iconic dinner party, image by Rowen Dinsmore.
ENSEMBL icons dinner party
ENSEMBL's iconic dinner party, image by Rowen Dinsmore.

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