Fireplaces might seem a little too old-fashioned for contemporary tastes, but we still have to keep ourselves warm. It’s also important for 21st century residents to protect their environment and lower their carbon footprints. So in addition to being stylish and environmentally friendly, our fireplaces have to look and feel distinctly modern.
Fortunately, furnace designers cater to our every decorative need, from minimalistic Lopi insert fireplaces to the hand-made space-age suspended furnaces by Bordelet. Of course, the most modern option you could go for is an ethanol fireplace. It produces no emissions, doesn’t burn fossil-fuels, doesn’t kill any trees, and its design is intrinsically futuristic.
Warm clean burn
Ethanol flames don’t emit any sparks, and there’s no soot or ash in their wake. The fuel comes in a bottle that you pour onto the burner. You then ignite it with a lighter. Use a long lighter to avoid burning yourself, since ethanol fireplace is quite flammable. Despite this, it produces minimal heat in comparison to other fireplaces, so you’re sacrificing comfort for style – or as some divas put it – smart-freezing (i.e. flashing skin instead of dressing for chilly weather).
It doesn’t need a chimney or flue because it doesn’t give off fumes, though it does consume oxygen, releasing trace amounts of water vapor and carbon dioxide, so the room needs to be well ventilated. Plus, it burns with an open flame, so keep an eye out for fire hazards. All that’s left to choose is where you’d like to position your fireplace.
On the wall
If you’re drawn by the appeal of linear gas fireplaces but can’t make peace with … you know … gas … then you can buy the biofuel equivalent. (Ethanol is organic because it’s made from maize/corn or sugarcane.) The Icon Nero Wall Fire mimics horizontal gas furnaces with a few key differences, such as its unprotected naked flame.
Apart from its more politically correct fuel source, it lacks the glass viewing panel and is slightly extruded rather than sitting flush against the wall. It comes in three sizes – 1150, 1450, and 1750. The model number indicates the length of the fireplace. It can burn upwards of 7 hours and can be framed with stainless steel in matte black or brushed silver.
On the floor
Your preference might be for a cute little furnace you can move around the room. In some ways, a portable ethanol burner is preferable, because they give off low heat levels, so you might want it right next to your hands or feet for maximal warmth. Cocoon Pedestal Fireplaces have a space pod design standing on a single glossy stainless steel leg.
The leg springs out of a flattened circular base that is wide enough to keep its oversized ‘head’ in perfect balance. It’s a low-standing fireplace, with its leg barely a foot above the ground and ideal for aforementioned foot-warming.
Although it’s a spirit, ethanol has no smell when it burns. The fire-pod is 2 feet in diameter and comes in shiny silver or matte black, and it’s a long-burning flame that can burn for up to 6 hours at a time. The whole unit is about 2 feet high, because the leg is 40cm and the body is 38cm, more or less.
On the ceiling
If you’d like to give your space pod fireplace a little elevation, you can suspend it from the roof instead of placing it on the floor. In this iteration, the Cocoon Aerial furnace has the same dimensions, styling options, and appearance as its pedestal sibling. However, instead of a one-foot leg, it has slim adjustable hanging pole with extensions of 50cm to 100cm.
The pole is mounted on the ceiling using sturdy brackets, and can stretch down to nearly 150cm, placing it about a foot off the ground, just like the Cocoon pedestal. The height is adjustable in six positions, so you can hang it higher if you prefer. The space pod can rotate a full 360 degrees so you can turn the flame to face where you wish.
On the …
Looking at the Cocoon Vellum fireplace, it’s not quite clear what supports it. The spherical ball of fire seems to hang in mid-air. In reality, it hangs off the wall on a solid bracket, its perfectly round shape offering the illusion of unhinged floating.
This two-foot globe can be silvery or black, with an asymmetrically positioned ‘mouth’ for its flame. The tri-circle design surrounding the dancing flame is mesmerising, coupled with the slightly off-kilter suspension. You could find yourself staring at this fireplace for hours, but you’d have to be quite close to fully enjoy its heat.