7. April 2015
The future of fireplaces, grills, and woodstoves has arrived. These household must-haves are crafted to appeal to modern design tastes, engineered to be more efficient, and powered by the latest technology and materials.
The SCHOTT team attended HPBExpo 2015 in Nashville in March, and at every turn we saw unique products that were designed with beauty and function, as well as some other compelling bells and whistles. Designers and engineers ripped up their decades-old designs and introduced original forms, new technologies, and fresh materials to create the next generation of products for the home. We saw massive grills with wide glass-ceramic lids for easy viewing, fireplaces fronted with radiant, reflection-free glass, and cylindrical woodstoves with curved glass that Ben Franklin never could have imagined.
Let’s start with grills. The most eye-catching product designs this year highlighted lighting and glass-ceramic, which expand designers’ palettes with a host of shapes, sizes, and colors that not only set their barbecues apart, but help backyard grillers cook their steaks with precision. Saber’s EDGE (which won Hearth & Home Magazine’s Vesta Award for Most Innovative Gas Grill and Best in Show) features a clear glass-ceramic pane built into the stainless steel lid, creating a flat, low profile look that offers a clear view of the grilling surface. Capital Cooking also used glass-ceramic in its grill lid, offering a view of the barbecue through a material that experiences extremely low thermal expansion. But this grill also focused on the controls, integrating LED-illuminated dials to illustrate when the grill is hot. One Twin Eagles grill featured a similar blue LED lighting scheme, and had a rotisserie burner seamlessly integrated behind glass-ceramic to protect the flame from grease and wind.
The comforting but appealing designs in wood stoves cannot be understated — every stove was distinct, and the far-reaching designs blended old forms with new concepts. Engineers are using glass-ceramic windows, over other tempered glass windows or open front features, to maintain the stove’s efficiency. There were plenty of wood stoves with the classic gated forms, but more subtle designs with a straight trim and solid edges and lines can create a bold statement without overpowering the design of a room.
And finally, we’ll look at both indoor and outdoor fireplaces. No longer are fireplaces drafty wood hogs that waste heat: Designers and engineers are rethinking how they front fireplaces, and they’re using glass-ceramic because it uniformly radiates heat. Plus, non-reflective coatings can virtually eliminate glare by preventing ambient light from reflecting off the surface and blocking the view. The materials used today in fireplace design create perfect sightlines into the fire while emanating heat back into the living space. The few outdoor fireplaces we saw were impressive — one was a giant ring of granite with a fireplace built into the center of it — that would become the focal point of any outdoor space. Moving back into the living room, the indoor fireplaces reminded us that these centerpieces of the home can be customized with printed glass designs and simple forms.
Many of the designs at HBPExpo were the product of engineers fearless in embracing both new and vetted technology, from smart electronics to glass-ceramic. They weren’t hamstrung by the past, and committed themselves to pushing the design norms to new territory in order to bring new aesthetic appeal to functional innovations.
With bold lighting, diverse shapes and new form factors of glass-ceramic panels, and styles all their own, the grills, wood stoves, and fireplaces that populated HPBExpo clearly offered the brightest signal yet that the barbecue and hearth industries have returned to form and are ready to turn up the heat.
Check back soon for a video tour of some of the highlights of the show floor.