Ready, set, glow with a designer fireplace

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 January, 2007, 12:00am

Warming up to winter can be a stylish affair, with the latest range of designer fireplaces adding a chic glow to your home.

These beauties are guilt-free: they're not wood fired so you don't have to worry about sacrificing a tree. There's no mess or fuss, since many no longer require a chimney. Best of all, you can install them in a high- rise then sit back to enjoy a cosy cottage feeling.

Options include the EcoSmart Fire, an Australian invention that requires neither installation nor utility connection for fuel supply, making it ideal for just about any architectural environment. The flame is fuelled by denatured ethanol, a renewable energy composed of biological products (sugarcane, potatoes, bananas, beetroot and cereals such as wheat) that burns clean and is virtually maintenance-free.

This fuel is suitable for an indoor environment and the slight though not unpleasant smell is perfectly safe, says Nils Neckel of Design Link, the Hong Kong supplier of the EcoSmart Fire. Fuel costs HK$980 for a 20-litre drum.

This fireplace is versatile. Clients can buy just the burner kit, and let their imagination run wild with the design - so that the flames rise up from, say, a counter top, coffee table or as a room divider. The Designer range (from HK$40,000 to HK$70,000) includes a fireplace surround in a choice of styles, while the Renovator range can be fitted against a solid wall or into an existing chimney.

Focus fireplaces made in France have won design awards and have been used as prestigious installations in the likes of New York's Guggenheim Museum, the Moderna Museet (Stockholm) and the National Centre of Modern Art in Paris. Designs include the Gyro series of rotating fireboxes that hang suspended from the ceiling - although this fireplace runs on wood, so you'd need an external flue. Stationary models are also available, which can be fixed to the floor, wall or ceiling.

Focus fireplaces have a rustic appeal reminiscent of the wood stoves of old. However, some designs are contemporary. Originally created by French literature teacher Dominique Imbert for his personal use, the furnaces have found a worldwide following across Australasia, Europe and the US. There's no distributor in Hong Kong, but they can be ordered via Australian supplier The Good House (

Depending on the design, gas or wood-burning models are available. Prices range from about HK$30,000 up.

Jetmaster fireboxes were originally designed as an insert for existing open fireplaces as a means of generating five times more heat. Today's models require minimal or sometimes no brickwork, as per the 'zero clearance' models. If you don't want or can't have wood-burning (which does require a flue), Jetmaster fireplaces also run on gas - although it can be hard to get a compliance permit in Hong Kong, so check with your distributor first. The Horizon range offers a wide designer choice, with pebbles, logs or coals as the visible 'fuel' for aesthetics.

Made in Australia, Jetmaster fireplaces are sold in Hong Kong by ENA Developments. Prices for the complete kit - fireplace and flue - range from HK$60,000 to HK$100,000.


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