Suspended fireplaces are custom made by the Focus brand in the South of France. Focus is known for their distinctive design which was born in the 1960s. With the return of the Mid-Century Modern design trend came the surge of demand for the Focus in contemporary design circles.
Since 2017 we have had the pleasure of installing several of these beauties throughout the Twin Cities and beyond. Curious about where this trend is headed, we asked our distribution partner, European Home, to answer a few questions for us about the Focus.
-How many Suspended Focus fireplaces have been sold since you acquired the brand?
About 200 since 2017.
-What are the unique qualities of the Focus that draw people to purchase it?
The Gyrofocus is the world’s first suspended, 360° rotating fireplace. The seminal design was created by Dominique Imbert in 1968. Caught in the midst of renovating a stone house during a cold winter in 1967, Dominique was inspired to create a fireplace with bits of metal that he was able to salvage from around the home. Thus, his first fireplace, the Antefocus, was created. This fireplace had a very similar shape to the Gyrofocus but was mounted to the wall. A year later, in 1968, Dominique perfected his sculpture, creating the Gyrofocus. It was revolutionary as much for its technical design as its groundbreaking style. Its ease of installation, made-to-measure flue and its heat efficiency have all contributed to make this fireplace the signature model and symbol of Focus.
Dominque’s goal when designing any fireplace is to challenge the norm. Focus is responsible for some of the most unique fireplace designs in the world because of Domique’s knack for designing something truly original. However, when the Gyrofocus was originally designed, his goal was simple: create warmth. Over the past 50 years Focus has been forging a perfect balance between creativity and demanding technical standards.
With the introduction of the Gyrofocus in a white finish, Focus was ensuring their iconic design meets modern contemporary design trends. Since its origins in 1968, the Gyrofocus has become an international design icon and has been exhibited in the Bordeaux Contemporary Art Museum (1996), the National Centre of Contemporary Art in Grenoble (1997) and in New York’s Guggenheim Museum (1998).
-What are the advantages of a Suspended fireplace in your opinion?
- The Focus fits in many different design schemes.
Upon first look, one might think that the Gyrofocus is exclusive to the ultra-modern home or commercial space. Although this can be somewhat true, we have seen many Gyrofocus installations that fit quite well in a more “rustic” space. The allure of a crackling wood fireplace adds a level of serenity to any space, especially one that is already in a serene environment such as a log cabin in the mountains or a lake house overlooking the water.
Read more about the focus on this blog post. Mid Century Modern in Fireplace Design.
- The Focus offers high quality that lasts.
Focus fireplaces are just as functional as they are beautiful. When in use they can be considered kinetic art. The manufacturing process not only emphasizes beauty but quality and durability as well.
The products are made with 3mm steel which is often thicker than similar products on the market. The thickness of the steel ensures its durability over time. The steel is given a primary coat of Zinc and then sprayed with anti-corrosion paint. This means the product can withstand up to 750°F and have a 2-year guarantee.
It is typical for most manufacturers to use a stamping process or press forming to shape the steel bowl and they are assembled with obvious welded seems. Focus uses metal spinning over a custom wood mold that ensures the 3-dimensional stability of the steel. The assembly is done with invisible, grinded weld seems which makes their products look cleaner with superior quality and workmanship.
Focus products are made at Focus’ own factory in France, an industrial site that has been shaping steel since 1892. It allows Focus to enforce its high-quality standards and to retain its long-standing craftsmanship. You can be assured that Focus products are not only the most attractive but the highest quality on the market.
- The Focus fire is easier to view at eye level.
‘Why should fire be fixed to the ground?’ asks Dominique Imbert. ‘I wanted my fireplaces to hang from the sky.’
Back in 1968, fireplaces were very straightforward: logs burning inside a traditional brick fireplace.
Dominque wanted to challenge this way of enjoying a fire which had remained unchanged for
hundreds of years. When one imagines a fire, it is almost always seen on the ground. Dominique had a desire to challenge this traditional way of thinking and what better way to create a fire that hangs from the sky! For most of Focus’ history their fireplaces have only been offered in a black steel finish. In recent years, contemporary design trends have led Focus to begin offering their fireplaces in a sleek, white finish.
How is a suspended fireplace installed in a new home?
A suspension plate is installed in the rafters, usually during framing, and the fireplace is installed after the other trades are finished.
How is a suspended fireplace installed in an existing home?
Similar to new construction, a suspension plate is installed in the ceiling and the fireplace hangs from the suspension plate. This can be done at any time during construction but it is best if it is done after all the major construction such as wall finishing and floors so that the dust has been cleared away.
What is unique about the installation process and what things should a builder be aware of regarding the process and timing of the project?
The Focus is designed to vent vertically through the roof like a regular wood burning fireplace.
Production Lead times range from 22 – 26 weeks (24 – 28 weeks for outdoor or optional white). Transit times from France range from 8 – 12 weeks.
What are the fuel options and have they been tested for sale in the United States?
Wood burning is available in all models. Gas in optional on floor mount and wall mount models.
Now in 2022, the iconic Gyrofocus has evolved again to become a groundbreaking design in modern fireplaces. Until now suspended fireplaces could use gas fuel but the engineers at Focus developed a way to do it without losing any original design elements. Focus has created an innovative system for supplying the gas burner through the chimney flue allowing the legendary fireplace to be supplied with a natural gas or propane burner. The odorless, gas technology is comfortable, safe, and practical for a clean-burning fire. A battery backup system allows the fireplace to operate in spite of a power outage.
How would you compare the costs of the custom made Focus product vs a regular finished fireplace on a wall?
When you consider the construction and material costs of framing a traditional fireplace on a wall, the cost of a suspended fireplace like the Focus is comparable.
What are the safety concerns and non-combustible requirements near the fireplace?
All fireplaces have recommended clearances to combustibles. Focus fireplaces are not insulated and will radiate heat from all metal and glass surfaces so they should be installed to the manufacturer's specifications outlined in the manual.
Do you have a favorite installation or project you can tell us about?
Paxfocus for This Old House in Brookline, Massachusetts. It was amazing to see behind the scenes of the T.V. show. You can read about that installation here.
Would you like to know more about the types of fireplaces available? Click on this link to learn more about all the different types of fireplaces available and how they can meet your individual needs.
Watch the video below to see our favorite installation in Grand Rapids Minnesota. This lake-side timber frame house was constructed with an industrial loft design scheme-perfect for the suspended Agorafocus.
Many thanks to Liz Lee and Kevin Simpson at European Home for their help with this interview. Video content provided by Jordan Powers.