If an automobile has beautiful lines, but a sputtering, powerless engine, would it be considered a keepsake classic? How about a home with a transcendent exterior, but an interior with cookie-cutter rooms and cheap fixtures?
What about a gas fireplace with obvious quality design and components, but an anemic, static flame? From our standpoint, a resounding no to all three, especially the last! To us, an inferior flame is heresy, punishable by a lifetime supply of Sterno.
Which is all the more reason why we consider the fireplaces created by our Dutch partners Element4 to be the absolute gold standards of the industry. Like their fellow Dutchmen, Rembrandt and van Gogh, they are masters in replicating the beauty of the natural world in their own inimitable style.
Element4 founder and owner Jan Kempers and his team have pored over every minute detail for the past 15 years to create gas burners that produce a flame picture that is unmatched in the industry. From their single burner fireplaces to the industry’s first quad burner with a fifth bottom burner, the flame is the essential beating heart of their fireplace.
"The flame is the essential beating heart of a fireplace."
Looking at an Element4 flame - whether it be in their corner gas fireplace, double-sided gas fireplace, outdoor gas fireplace or any of their other modern direct vent gas fireplace models - is like standing in front of van Gogh’s iconic The Starry Night. It’s mesmerizing, in part because the flames swirl like his brushstrokes, creating a timeless, indelible image.
The beauty of the flame, the clean modern design of the firebox, and the incredibly realistic look of the logs and other fireplace media like embers and glass would be enough for most. But Kempers and his team are quintessentially Dutch, which for them, means that their product has to deliver function as much as form.
That design aesthetic is rooted in the Dutch style, which mirrors the more recognized Scandinavian style in its bedrock principles of clean simple lines, practicality, and use of natural materials.
Dutch design style gained prominence in the 1980’s, with the likes of industrial designers Hella Jongerius, Frans Schrofer and Hester van Eeghen, architects Rem Koolhaus and Francine Houben and the recognition of the Design Academy Eindhoven as one of the world’s preeminent design influencers.
So it’s no surprise that Kempers and his team have embraced those principles as they’ve built out Element4’s extensive line of modern gas fireplaces. As simple and intentional the modern lines of their fireplaces are, the company never forgets that function is just as important as form.
One of the most practical and important features of an Element4 direct vent gas fireplace is the ability to either turn down or off individual burners, reducing heat output, emissions and fuel use. This results from the extensive R&D and testing the company has done on designing burner systems that produce the perfect flame for the chosen setting - with no waste and no reduced efficiency. And no need to dump the heat outside with wasteful "summer kits" either, further stressing our environment.
The company's proprietary Eco-Mode setting controls the flame height automatically, adjusting the height up and down - much like a natural fire as it consumes fuel. This setting enables for up to 40% less fuel consumption than a traditional gas fireplace, resulting in lower operating cost and emissions.
Another Element4 difference lies in the quality of the flame picture on both its highest and lowest setting. Its Real Flame technology doesn’t shoot a jet of flames up between logs, like so many of its competitors. Instead, the flames wrap sinuously around the logs, producing an effect that is so realistic an observer might be tempted to grab a twig and a marshmallow.
"Real Flame technology doesn’t just shoot a jet of flames up between logs."
Whether it be the smaller Cupido 70 - which at slightly over 11 ½” is the slimmest fireplace on the market, perfect for condos and older buildings - or the three-sided Summum 100 3S, which offers an LED-illuminated ember bed controllable through the company’s E Save Remote or Pro Control App, the flame picture produced by the Element4 is unrivaled perfection.
All this seamless function shouldn’t give the impression that Element4 doesn’t know how to let its hair down and have some fun! The Summum series, which include the Summum 140, the winner of the prestigious 2019 Hearth & Home Product of the Year award, all feature adjustable LED lights in the bottom and sides of the fireplace.
These mood-setting lights change to a wide range of colors and can be put on “party” loop, switching from different effects, including Zen, Glowing Ember and Romantic. Other models offering this innovative feature include the 8’ wide, see-through Club 240H and it’s expansive bed of glass brilliants. This innovative feature makes an Element4 fireplace a mesmerizing presence in any space.
Bells and whistles aside, the flame is the focal point of their fireplaces. While an idle Element4 gas fireplace is a showcase of striking design simplicity, a lit Element4 fireplace is a work of harmonious art.
Fifteen years after its founding, the company sells its fireplaces in over 20 countries worldwide. They’ve understandably found their niche with architects, designers and discerning customers who recognize quality and innovation when they see it.
Which makes them the perfect partner for European Home!
Story by: Robert Conlin
Robert Conlin is a freelance writer living in Wiscasset, Maine. A former certified chimney sweep and retail stove shop owner, he has returned to his roots as a journalist/writer in producing enterprise reporting and online content for a variety of publications and companies.