Liz Lee
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For architects and designers, commercial projects are a little bit like public art. They can be enjoyed by all; however, they also pose a number of design challenges that simply do not need to be considered for a residential project. We picked out some of our favorite fireplace installations in public/commercial settings and talked to a handful of the architects and designers involved in these projects.

1.  Flour Bakery: Cambridge, MA

Looking for a morning pick-me-up or a comfortable spot to settle in with your laptop and the most thoughtfully crafted ham and cheese sandwich you ever laid your taste buds on? The Flour Bakery and Cafe in Cambridge, MA is the perfect spot. Owner and James Beard Award-winning baker, Joanne Chang opened her first Flour back in 2000 but this newest location features more than just great coffee cake. 

This newly designed space draws influence from Flour’s own unique color palette paired with a cozy Scandinavian vibe. Notice the prevalence of simple, white walls, washed-out woods, pale blue pops, and finally black accents throughout to tie the entire composition together.

At the center of it all is a stunning 4-sided modern fireplace with a custom metal vent hood. Architect David Hacin told us he wanted this space to be inviting, feeling more like your own living room than your local coffee joint. It’s a space where you can really spread out and make yourself at home.

Check out our video interview with architect David Hacin: here.

2. Mendocino Farms: San Diego, CA

Let’s stick with the restaurant theme but travel across the country to Mendocino Farms in San Diego, CA.  This Cali hot-spot serves up fresh, farm to table, sandwiches that are as big on flavor as they are on integrity. They partner with local farmers to ensure the freshest ingredients and innovative seasonal flavor combinations.

At Mendocino Farms their passion for design doesn’t stop at the edges of the plate.  As you walk up you are greeted by their quirky mascot, a blue spotted dairy cow, as well as a reclaimed wood facade further hinting towards their farm-to-table culture.

With the inside teeming with business folks trying to grab-and-go, the patio is the perfect place to take your time and relax.  Featured on the patio is a beautiful single-sided outdoor gas fireplace surrounded in lush turquoise Moroccan tile and (once again) reclaimed lumber.  The linear J Series fireplace comes in a number of configurations including single-sidedsee-through and corner.  The long, communal table in front of the fireplace features live succulents and another unique Moroccan-inspired pattern.

3. Southern Ocean Lodge: Kangaroo Island, Australia

Next stop: Australia. One of our favorite installs of the iconic Gyrofocus fireplace is at Southern Ocean Lodge, located at Hanson Bay on Kangaroo Island’s southwest coast. Settled on the edge of a rocky clifftop, the lodge offers 21 suites with curved walls and large windows, showcasing the beautiful coastal views. Imagine a panoramic view of the Australian scenery interrupted only by the wood fire crackle and dramatic lines of a sculptural suspended fireplace. The lodge’s design-centric interiors and epicurean focus create its unique style.

The Lodge is within easy reach of all major attractions on the Island. Whether it be kayaking through the American River, taking a scenic bike tour, or enjoying some delicious local cuisine, you will have the experience of a lifetime. After a long day of swimming with dolphins, and climbing your way through the trails sit back and relax next to the warmth of the Gyrofocus fireplace by Focus Fires. Suspending from the ceiling, the fire rotates 360 degrees to ensure all guests can enjoy the view and warmth.

The sleek and simple design of this fireplace matches the modern and luxurious look of the lodge. Their goal of providing a haven of comfort, style, and personal intimacy is realized while sitting by this iconic fireplace. So, get cozy, grab a glass of wine (or two), and enjoy the breathtaking sights as the sun sets over the Australian coast.

Read more about the Gyrofocus at the Southern Ocean Lodge: here.

4. Mithun Agency: Minneapolis, MN

You walk into many office buildings and what do you see? Cubicles, desks, and people hiding behind computer monitors. Mithun Agency, in Minneapolis, wanted to take a different approach when designing their work environment. They are an advertising and marketing firm that was founded back in 1933 by Ralph Campbell and Ray Mithun. They built their team with a strong focus on design, and collaboration. With a team-oriented approach, it was essential to create a space suitable for daily meetings.

To get their creative vibes flowing, they designed the area to be comfortable and minimalist. The color palette of whites, tans, and greys complement the warmth and orange tones of the 3-sided fireplace. This cozy environment was created by designer Kar-Keat Chong, promoting what the Scandinavians call an aesthetic of “hygge.”

The intention was to encourage creativity and collaboration while feeling a sense of togetherness and well-being. Chong hoped to reinvent a space for employees to escape the open office environment they were used to, and offer a more casual and comfortable zone. He explains that the fireplace serves to anchor the space as a “central highlight and focal point.” The Trisore was the perfect fit for Chong’s vision of comfort and serenity.

Read more about the motivations behind Chong’s design and the tenants of hygge: here

5. The Inn at Aspen: Aspen, CO

At the base of Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, Colorado sits an inviting lodge that we couldn’t help but explore. When you first walk through the doors, you’re greeted with the sounds of holiday classics and the aroma of fresh brewed coffee and untreated cedar. The rustic feel of the Inn, from the wooden structures to the earthy tones, and green plants, makes you feel at home immediately.

As you continue through the lobby you can’t help but notice the clean lines, and repetitive, almost modular setup of the space. The exposed wood beams, held tight by blacksmith forged fasteners, give the entire space a rustic handmade quality.  As you turn the corner into the bar, you’re met with the sight of two back-to-back fireplaces stretching over 10' wide. 

The Inn at Aspen teamed up with Crystal Springs Builders and Z-Group Architectsto design the fireplace and surrounding area.

According to Project Manager, John Underwood:

The main design challenge we faced was creating a dramatic focal point in such an expansive space.  The ceilings alone were 30' tall, so we knew something substantial was needed.  The back to back Lucius 140 fireplaces paired with the custom steel vent hood created a strong vertical design element and a floor to ceiling focal point for the gathering space.

Read more about the Inn at Aspen: here

6. St. Gregory Hotel: Washington, DC

For those with a passion for history, and an eye for design, come check out the St. Gregory Hotel. Sitting in a lively cultural scene in Dupont Circle, it’s within easy access to the city’s most iconic neighborhoods. Here you’ll find some of D. C’s finest art, best shopping, and dining choices all at your fingertips.

During your stay, take a stroll along the Potomac River in Foggy Bottom, explore the monuments and memorials of the National Mall, or wander Georgetown’s charming cobblestone streets.

Pam Fleming of Day or Night Home & Hearth on her collaboration experience for the St. Gregory hotel lobby project:

“The design team and owners of St. Gregory contacted us and were very interested in European Home’s product.  Being a multi-story high rise building there was no possible way to vent the fireplace outside given its location in the floor plan. I did my research, and suggested to them that the H Series vent-free fireplace would be the perfect fit. We all got together to discuss the plans and they ended up very happy with this choice.”

Read more about the St. Gregory Hotel project: here

7. Kona Grill: Minnetonka, MN

At Kona Grill the unique design and saturated splashes of blue light create a theatrical experience that begins as soon as you walk in the door. If you look over by the bar, the sushi chef is cutting sashimi on his illuminated stage. And around the corner, is the Tenore 240, an eight-foot long see-through gas fireplace which brings drama and warmth to the entire scene.

We asked, designer, Sky Adler what influenced the Kona Grill design aesthetic he helped develop and here’s what he had to say:

Sky Adler: “When I came in, we wanted to create a complete update to Kona’s image.  I completely re-imagined the color palette – bringing in blues, grays and patina coppers to create a signature look.  I also wanted to bring in new textures, like tile, concrete, and rusted metal.  When you walk into a Kona Grill you can’t help but be reminded of the elements.  Fire and water are central to our identity.  I let these elements inform nearly all of my decisions from the fireplace to the aquarium to the specific color of the light that permeates the entire space.”

Sky Adler: “I wanted to create different fields of light for different activities.  For instance, the dining area or the bar is lit differently from the lounge where the fireplace really warms up the space and provides a lot of drama amidst a sea of blue.”

And why did you pick the Tenore 240 — a double-sided, see-through fireplace for this space?

“Like I said, I like to create different dining experiences within the same space while maintaining the connectivity and energy throughout. The double-sided fireplace allows more visibility between the distinct spaces and with a single fireplace you can create two completely different atmospheres on either side. The appeal is to have division between the patio and dining room areas with the dynamic fire feature bringing it all together.”

Read the entire interview with Sky Adler: here

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