Influential Interiors: The Future of Eco-Friendly InteriorsPublished on 20th July 2016
In our new Influential Interiors mini series we explore the worlds of prominent interior designers and innovative concepts.
This month Sarah, Creative Director of Bio Fires, talks to us about eco-fuel, tabletop burners, loved-up customers and why Apropos and Bio Fires fit together in the world of architecture and interior design.
First off, we have to know – how can Bio Fires work with Apropos conservatories and orangeries?
Bioethanol fireplaces would add to the contemporary look of Apropos conservatories and orangeries perfectly. This is because they’re freestanding and require no chimney, they can be easily moved around to create the visual impact the customer wants to achieve or, with the smaller units, simply used on the table as a stylish addition to the décor.
Can you summarise Bio Fires in three words?
Problem-solving fireplace solutions.
What’s the story of the history behind it?
When I was a child, my grandparents had an old-fashioned room in the cottage with an enormous fireplace. The whole family life revolved around the fireplace and I have very fond memories of the time. I always wanted to have a fireplace in my house but it never worked out.
Fifteen years ago, my husband and I went to a show in America, where we saw a flat-packed fireplace running on a can of gel to fuel the fire. That’s when it all clicked! Although it was a clever concept, we weren’t impressed with the design. This inspired us to develop our own range of gel fireplaces with a traditional English style and we later expanded into the modern style as well. Then the product progressed into using a cleaner burn called bioethanol fuel. And here we are!
What started your passion for eco-friendly fuels?
Once I had my daughter, I realised I had a great responsibility to make the future better for us and, therefore, started to try and become healthier and think about the environment more. We need to think more about the world we’re going to leave when we’re gone.
That’s very true! These days, things aren’t usually built to last – how do Bio Fires work in an ever-increasing disposable world?
Bio Fires are very easy to use, require no installation and are perfect for customers who want a lovely fire without any hassle of wood-burning or gas fireplaces. Our fireplaces have a reservoir in which you put bioethanol fuel. Then you light the fireplace with a lighter or long match and that’s how you create the fire. You don’t need a chimney or flue as no smoke or toxic fumes are produced. When you want to extinguish the fire, you simply slide the lid across.
Wow – and that means there’s no ash to clean up afterwards. How many types of Bio Fires are available at the moment?
We currently have over 50 products available across our various ranges, including wall-hanging bioethanol fireplaces, freestanding Bio Fires, remote-control bioethanol fireplaces and manual ribbon flame containers. The last two are especially popular with interior designers and customers going for a contemporary look with a long line of fire. Then there are tabletop burners that can be simply placed on a table indoors or outdoors in your garden or patio, a favourite for spring and summer.
We really are spoiled for choice! How much does it cost to run a Bio Fire based on the average user?
The effective running cost for the average user is £1 per hour based on buying fuel in bulk. Smaller fires, like tabletop burners, work out even cheaper!
That’s very efficient for just a small amount of fuel. So, how long are the burning times?
The burning time varies across different products. Most of our freestanding and wall-mounted units have the burning time of 3-6 hours per refill, Carrington Traditional Bio Ethanol Fireplace, an all-time favourite, burns from 2.5 to 4 hours, depending on the size of the opening, and our tabletop burners burn up to an hour. Bespoke fires and automatic Bio Fireplaces with the longest burning time are in our Black Label range, for example Planika’s remotely controlled Fire Line Automatic 3 with burning times ranging from 4 to 10 hours.
All that burning…what is the carbon footprint of a Bio Fire?
Very low. All bio ethanol fires are carbon neutral because they use bio ethanol. The CO2 emitted when burning bio ethanol was first absorbed by plants, which was then transformed into food waste and used to produce bio fuel. This makes Bio Fires much more environmentally friendly than wood-burning, gas or electric fires. They are also 100% heat efficient as all the heat stays in the room.
Do architects and interior designers need any special permissions to install a Bio Fire?
No building regulations are currently in place for bioethanol fires. The nature of the product is that it’s very easy to use but common sense should be applied when using it. When building a hole-in-the-wall unit, for example, fireproof materials must be used and safety distances observed.
Is it possible to transform an old fireplace using a Bio Fireplace?
Yes, absolutely, this is a problem-solving product. At this day and age, people hate electric fires but don’t want to spend the money on having a gas fireplace when you don’t need so much heat anymore. You can use a bioethanol burner placed into an old Victorian grate or alternatively put in one of our own grates in the existing fireplace. If you have an old electric fire, you can replace it with our DIY Bio Ethanol Insert.
What about people who have blocked chimneys? Can they have a Bio Fire?
Yes, you don’t need a working chimney or additional ventilation. Bioethanol fires burn cleanly and release no harmful emissions as the only major by-products are heat and a little bit of water vapour and CO2. So it’s really the perfect solution for people who have blocked chimneys.
Do you provide both ethanol and gel fires? What’s the difference?
Fireplaces running on gel fuel have now nearly been replaced by more efficient and cleaner bio fuel versions. Gel is a thicker substance and leaves some residue in the cans, whereas bio ethanol is a clean liquid used in a different type of container. As such, it requires no maintenance and burns equally long with a nice orange flame.
How did you come up with such an innovative way to keep warm?
As I mentioned before, we adapted the idea of easy-to-use gel fireplaces to the English fireplace tradition. The warmth is a nice perk but the main purpose is the visuals.
Does a Bio Fire give off heat?
It does, many customers are actually pleasantly surprised when they feel it. There is about 3 kWh of heat produced in the room. However, bio ethanol fires are not heating devices and the fire cannot replace conventional heating.
What is the Bio Fire best used for?
It’s used to create a stunning focal point, add to the cosy ambience and visually enhance any living space.
Have you had any famous clients?
We’ve had quite a few famous clients and people from interesting walks of life like a couture dress designer and film stars but we would like to keep our client base a secret. But we can disclose that our products have been used in a number of different restaurants and hotels, like Itsu in Notting Hill and The Shard.
Do you have any funny Bio Fire customer stories to tell?
We think of our showroom here in central London as very sexy. So let me tell you a story that went a bit too far. A young couple came to our showroom to see one of the fireplaces that they really liked online. After lighting the fire and explaining the product, we normally leave customers alone so they have some time to make the decision but on this occasion we had the shock of our lives when we came back. They were lying on the rug with hands all over each other as if they would have been in their own living room! It’s true, there was chill-out music in the background and the lovely ambience of a real flame in front of them but who knows how romantic it could have gone if we had left them alone for a bit longer. They must have fallen in love with the fire so much they seized the moment. They didn’t seem embarrassed at all and at the end they said they’d buy the fire but wanted the rug as well!
That’s very funny! Bio Fires are very contemporary – how would you make it work with the interior design of an old-build home or even a new-build home with classic decor?
Not really, the range covers classic décor as well as contemporary design. It all started off with traditional pieces, which are still very popular. An old or new-build home with classic décor could benefit from one our traditional grates, like Cotswold Real Log Bio Fire and Luxury Montagu Grate, or freestanding bioethanol fires that can be placed flat against the wall, like Roma Bio Fireplace or Carrington Traditional Bio Ethanol Fireplace. That’s the beauty and versatility of Bio Fires.
Thank you very much for your time Sarah.
Why not visit Bio Fires today and take a look at their stunning eco-friendly collection – the perfect accompaniment to your Apropos project.
At Apropos we’re also masters of high quality, innovative interior design. Our orangeries are perfect for table-top burners when you’re looking for a place to relax with a good book. If you’re thinking about a kitchen extension then why not consider a wall hanging fireplace as a showpiece for your dinner parties? You can add an extra touch of homeliness to your garden studio with a freestanding fireplace – the ideal way to introduce personality and character to your project.
Browse our site and begin your dream conservatory or extension project today. You can also download our FREE buying guide to help get you started.
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