Introducing the AF700 Gas Fireplace
The Escea factory has been hot with activity and creativity for a good 2 years which has resulted in an elegant replacement fireplace with two times more glass than competitor products. From the beginning, the design process revolved around flame and flexibility.
Alex Hodge, AF700 Lead Designer, realised the design trend was heading towards minimalist styling which has been present in the European market for some time. On the other hand, Alex noted that New Zealand is full of homes with open fronted wood log fireplaces that are paired with mantles, tiles and bricks, which are being decommissioned left, right and centre. These old brick and masonry cavities are heavily built into the structural bones of the homes, so it’s not an easy feat to remove them. He quickly realised there was a space for providing a fire modern in style, flexible in nature and without strong design features that would dictate the décor.
With these two market needs on the brain, Alex knew he needed to design something that would accommodate for both of these situations. It occurred to him that this minimalist trend was being influenced by the desire for more flame. Home owners want to get the most out of their fire – and heat isn’t always the main objective. So the largest glass area possible to maximise the flame display was essential. Further, the surrounding frame couldn’t distract from the fire bed within, neither could the fuel bed. Its primary focus was clear.
This decision lead to a minimal fascia which doesn’t overpower the appearance, a large glass face and a simply classic fuel bed ; leaving them with needing to build a fire suitable for replacing an open fronted log fire in a small space.
During the product research phase, the design engineering team noticed that a lot of the traditional wood fireplaces had angled sides. To make it the perfect replacement fireplace, it needed to mimic the same features as the fireplaces they were replacing to make the transition as seamless as possible. The angular rear gives it an advantage to fit into a lot of spaces where other insert or inbuilt fireplaces struggle to sit.
Once the ball was rolling, the stars began to align. The AF700 ‘look’ worked well as a standalone feature in a clean timber wall, but its refined detailing worked equally well in a mantle or with tiles. The next achievement was when it easily slotted into a brick chimney cavity without too much drama. But the heat wasn’t off the design team yet.
Next, the fireplace needed to be energy efficient and effectively heat a room yet without overheating itself. R & D worked day in and day out making sure these elements were going to follow on from our Escea standards and make the AF700 a completely well-rounded fireplace that everyone wanted – and needed- to have.
The team powered through and the finish line seemed so close. The lab where the fireplaces are tested is located in Australia. These standards make sure that all of the fireplaces in New Zealand are kind to our environment and safe in our homes, then lastly, how efficient they will be to burn. Our in-house engineer, Troy Jolly, was in charge of overseeing the approval process to meet the rigorous NZ standards – and almost became an Australian citizen in the process – but that didn’t deter his commitment. Then he received the news. The 17th of March marked the day Troy could finally get used to NZ soil again. The marketing, manufacturing and admin teams got the all clear, and then it was: game on.
We are proud to introduce the AF700 high output gas fireplace. The fireplace that redefines its category; 2 times more viewable glass, smartphone operated, Direct Vent flue, and suitable for a brick and masonry cavity. We hope it brings you just as much pleasure in your home that it has given us to create.