SCHOTT solutions no. 2/2009 > Fireplace Viewing Panels


Design for Flaming Experiences

Today, fireplaces and stoves serve not only as heating devices, but rather express one’s own lifestyle and attitude towards life. Here, Robax® glass-ceramic viewing panels from SCHOTT allow for the dancing flames to be enjoyed from different perspectives.

Thilo Horvatitsch

At the emotional level, the fireplace is an archaic place that inspires intense feelings of companionship, coziness and romance. The dancing flames that have fascinated people for thousands of years have now also taken hold of the furniture industry. Fireplaces and stoves have become a living expression of “homing”, the trend that calls for the home to be looked at as the center of one’s own social life, a place to feel comfortable and contemplate life, but also to socialize.
Photo: (left) Spartherm, (right) Palazzetti
A major study commissioned by SCHOTT in 2007 that covered six European countries and the United States revealed that these types of emotional aspects top the list when it comes to buying a fireplace, even before conserving energy and protecting the environment. According to these findings, a fireplace ranks as the heart of a home in all of these countries. It adds that special flair and makes the home a lot cozier. According to consumers, heat-resistant viewing panels are also important because they allow people to get as close to the fire as possible and yet be protected from flying sparks and smoke fumes.
Today, fireplace vendors allow for the fascination of fire to be ex­perienced in entire rooms – with Robax® viewing panels and design ideas that suit every taste: Spartherm sets accents with the egg-shaped Robax® Elisse (upper left), Pallazetti prefers futuristic (upper right), Charnwood’s “Tor” reflects the trend with three round-shaped Robax® panes (right). Photos: Charnwood
Today, manufacturers of fireplaces and stoves set the stage for what is literally a flaming experience by offering an increasingly broad range of designs. For this reason, finding just the right product that suits every taste, meets every demand, matches one’s one lifestyle and fits in perfectly with various interiors is not at all difficult. From romantic countryhouse to rustic Mediterranean, futuristic shapes and even modern, minimalist models, all of these styles are available. According to the study commissioned by SCHOTT, preferences vary on the basis of culture, depending on what is considered to be important. In France, for instance, the fireplace stands for nostalgic values, yet also conveys status, individuality and a certain sense of “savoir vivre”. In Germany, England and the U.S., however, it is mainly looked at as a modern lifestyle accessory.

Shaped glass-ceramic viewing panels play an increasingly important role in realizing the respective designs, because they provide new ways of viewing the fire and enhance the fireplace from a visual standpoint to make it the highlight of the living room. This is why SCHOTT, one of the leading manufacturers, offers its Robax® product in a variety of different shapes: flat, curved, angular bent with one or two angles or three- dimensional. In addition, the company developed new environmentally friendly printing colors as a way of decorating the edges of the panels. These can be subjected to mechanical processing by drilling holes, performing grinding, or be refined, for instance. There are versions that feature a flat beveled edge along the side of the panel that allows for the dancing flames to refract in different ways. An anti-reflective and a mirror coating are also part of the repertoire. And for those who enjoy customized solutions, exclusive models like Robax® Giant, the world’s largest curved glass-ceramic panel, or the three-dimensional dome shaped model Robax® Dome are also available.
A trend towards emotional fireplace design: In “Linear Arte Wh” from Spartherm, the Robax® viewing panel is wave-shaped. Photo: Spartherm
Visitors to this year’s ISH, the world’s leading trade exhibition for bathrooms, buildings, energy, air conditioning technology and renewable energies that was held in Frankfurt, Germany, were able to see what fireplaces and stoves that feature a modern design and shaped viewing panels can look like. A wave-shaped fireplace that features Robax® glass-ceramic really set an exclamation mark in the design sense. “Flowing, highly esthetic shapes like these were first made possible by modern CAD technology,” claims its designer, Michael Lammel (see interview), who has also been inspiring SCHOTT with innovative ideas and scenarios for over 10 years.

The technology group always follows design trends and attempts to provide fireplace manufacturers with much greater freedom with respect to design by offering glass-ceramics in a wide variety of different shapes. And rather successfully: 30 years and 30 million viewing panels sold make Robax® the leading brand in the segment of heat-resistant, transparent materials for fireplaces and stoves. This can certainly be traced back to the technical execution of efforts to come up with an even larger variety of shapes and colors, ecological quality and safety. “The Robax® brand stands for innovative quality and a fireplace feeling we call ‘warm&safe’, ” emphasizes Dr. Ioannis Kosmas, Vice President of the SCHOTT Glass- Ceramics Business Segment. And the brand is capable of motivating others: in May of 2008, SCHOTT Robax® founded the European fireplace initiative “atmosfire – make your house a home” that eight renowned fireplace manufacturers are currently participating in. Here, the emphasis is on design: the “fireplace profiler” on Europe’s first online service platform devoted to fireplaces ( helps consumers find the appropriate heating furniture for their homes. <|
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