Design icon ‘Iguana’ – Ivo Nijsten

Every other week, together with Sjiek / Het Belang Van Limburg, we propose a Limburg design icon, or one that is well on its way to becoming one. This week it is Iguana from Ivo Nijsten.

WHAT: Design radiator

YEAR: 1996

Can a radiator be a design icon? Sure. When Ivo Nijsten launched the innovative radiator Iguana, he opened a new world for heating appliances and for Diepenbeek manufacturer Jaga. Until then, radiators always had the classic shape: a box on the wall, not much more than that. But what Ivo Nijsten came up with in the mid-1990s was the beginning of the design radiators.


The idea for the Iguana came from a drawing of a kid, “Ivo Nijsten remembers. “If you want to symbolize warmth, you draw a sun. So that’s where it’s started. Coming up with a shape is one thing, but it needs to be technically possible.”

On paper a sun looks simple, nothing more than a circle with some rays. A radiator, on the other hand, is a technically complex radar work in which form, function and technology are closely linked together. Ivo Nijsten skirted the circle and the rays into a cylinder with ridges, almost like a Greek column.


Triangular steel radiant tubes were connected with each other by means of innovative tube techniques, and so much more formal freedom was suddenly created. As if the radiator were prying off the wall and erecting itself to stand in the center of the room, tall and prominent. “It was the start of decorative heaters, including this upright design radiator,” says Ivo Nijsten.

The Iguana won the prestigious iF Award in 2000 and in that year also featured in the iF Design Top10 together with the Audi TT and the high-speed train ICE, among others. As a technical and formal piece of art, the Iguana is even part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in Ghent (SMAK). Iguana also remains a commercial success. In the meantime, more than 500,000 units have been sold. There are therefore many variations available, from arc to corner.

Ivo Nijsten, who graduated in Genk in 1977 as a product designer and founded his design studio Nivo Design in 1993, has more radiators for Jaga to his name. “But they do particularly well because they do not stand out. Heaters must be as invisible as possible today. I like that, I don’t like being in the spotlight myself.”

More versions of the Iguana: Circo, Aplano, Arco, Visio, Corner and Angula Plus. Info via