Jonathan Smith, Product Marketing Manager at Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation discusses how fire can be used to the advantage of every business.

Fire has played a critical part in our evolution; it provided us with warmth, protection and the ability to cook. Even today, dancing flames in an open fireplace seem to draw us in to congregate around it, mesmerised by its effect. In fact, while fire may not be a necessity in our everyday lives as it once was, we are still fascinated by it.

Theories abound as to why this is. Some people believe that we are born with an instinct to learn how to build and control fire, while others believe that it is deep-rooted as a focal point for social cohesion. And in historical times, this made sense - fire provided a haven for people to feel warm and safe.

The scientific evidence for flame Many hospitality settings already use flame installations to take advantage of this effect. Malcolm Berg of EoA, a hospitality design firm, states that in hotel design today, there’s more of an emphasis on creating spaces that bring people together. In addition, authenticity in design - where furniture reflects what is seen in nature - is becoming more common.

Flame installations achieve both; they can bring nature to the inside and are also very effective in encouraging people to gather around them.

And the psychological and physiological benefits are proven. For instance, research scientists in Japan found by investigating alpha brain wave patterns, that watching flame movements helps to improve levels of human comfort and satisfaction. Additionally, in a study for the University of Alabama, Dr. Lynn discovered that watching a fire, complete with sound effects, consistently lowered high blood pressure. The longer people watched the fire, the more relaxed they became, and the experience also seemed to make the participants more sociable.

Researchers have also found that prison inmates who watched nature videos, including those showing a fireplace with burning logs, reported reduced feelings of aggression, distress, irritability and nervousness. And the effect persisted for several hours after viewing.

Flame for every environment Given the ability to transform spaces into calm, inviting and appealing social spaces, flame installations could, therefore, provide many benefits to occupants in clinical as well as hospitality locations. For example, hospitals can actually be quite stressful places, despite their purpose. Anything which makes both visitors and patients feel less stressed can help the recovery process.

In addition, given their ability to lower blood pressure and distress, flame installations could improve the wellbeing of residents in care homes as well as in education and prison settings.

And for the hospitality sector, where making visitors feel welcome and encouraging sociable behaviour is key to getting guests to linger longer, flame installations could provide the ideal solution to creating relaxed spaces.

Mitigating health and safety concerns Of course, a fireplace installation may not be suitable for some environments; there can be concerns around health and safety, maintenance and installation. However, with electric flame installations, there is no open flame. They are cool to the touch and no smoke is produced, meaning that the technology is safe and non-polluting.

Also, no chimney or working flue is required, so the installation can be performed easily and in pretty much any space. The technology is 100% energy efficient, therefore meeting sustainability and efficiency requirements.

The vitality of flame The psychological and physiological benefits of flame are clear, but they are also aesthetically pleasing as a design feature. There are many environments which would benefit from a statement fireplace or a spectacular room divider. Modern flame installations can be just as ‘lifelike’ as real flame, and as well as being environmentally friendly, they are also a cost-effective solution. They add comfort, ambience and warmth to the starkest of spaces, positively influencing wellbeing to everyone who sees them.


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