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Yves St. Hilaire’s Wrap-around Fireplace was awarded Best Fireplace in the 2011 CHENG Concrete Circle of Distinction Design Challenge by judges Fu-Tung Cheng, designer (Cheng Design, Cheng Products, CHENG Concrete), Robert Brunner, industrial designer (Ammunition Group, Fuego), and Dan Gregory, editor and author (Houseplans.com).
St. Hilaire has been working with decorative concrete for over four years and recently re-branded his company, creating Sticks + Stones Furniture, located in British Columbia, to better encompass the variety of work the studio creates, including countertops, fireplaces, sinks, and wood and concrete fusion furniture.
Project Objective + Client Feedback
The clients of the wrap-around concrete fireplace wanted to create a focal point for their living space that had a strong aesthetic presence without overwhelming the space. The fireplace is double-sided and they hoped it would bring a sense of grandeur and warmth to the space while staying in balance with the open plan and style of the house. Sticks + Stones Furniture believes that often times less is more, and, after consulting with the clients, it was decided to approach this project with a minimalistic attitude. Says St. Hilaire about the end result: “They [the clients] were ecstatic and stated that it turned out more beautifully than they ever imagined.”
Design + Expertise
The biggest challenge for St. Hilaire fabricating this fireplace was adhering to the clients’ minimalist intent. Very often, the desire to showcase the design abilities of decorative concrete can detract from its inherent natural qualities of warmth and earthiness. In the case of this project, such a large, prominent feature could easily have become overbearing in less skillful hands. Concrete as a material met all of the clients’ criteria: it is versatile in form, color and texture, is both natural and warm, and has the added benefit of being fire-safe.
In addition to critical aesthetic choices, there were physical challenges to completing this project. As is the case with many older houses, the floor and walls of this home were not square. Exact measurements and perfect planning were paramount, due to the large size and small number of concrete pieces. Every aspect of the concrete fireplace had to precisely fit; any flaws or deviations would be instantly noticeable, distracting from the pristine look of the final piece.
The completed project—with its simple, natural color and sleek line—lends itself perfectly to the home and dramatically showcases the earthy, inherent beauty of concrete. The judges collectively agree, noting that the award-winning fireplace is undoubtedly “simple and strong.”
2011 Best Fireplace, CHENG Concrete Exchange Design Challenge
Recognized in the industry as the pinnacle of exceptional design and craftsmanship, the CHENG Concrete Exchange Design Challenge showcases talent and technical skill of the very best in creative concrete.
About Sticks + Stones
Sticks + Stones Furniture showcases the strength, elegance and pliability of its materials. With a unique blending of wood and concrete, Sticks + Stones brings modern materials and designs to your living and work spaces.
In addition to custom furniture, Sticks + Stones’ concrete castings can add a signature design feature to every room in your home. From kitchens to bathrooms, fireplaces to countertops, Sticks + Stones caters to those seeking an original touch, a one-of-a-kind piece for their homes. Each concrete casting, from color to texture to sizing, will always be unique. And over time, you can choose to let its living finish show, or keep its original luster. The versatility and organic qualities of concrete are expressed uniquely in each finished installation.