Public areas in hotels have been undergoing an evolution for several years now, moving toward more social settings conducive to conversation. Outdoor areas have not been spared, and creating a social atmosphere outside can be easily accomplished using a fire pit as a focal point.
According to Tom Healy, co-founder and GM of Spark Modern Fires, a designer of interior and exterior fire pits for both residential and hospitality markets, hotel guests are drawn to unusual design elements and use those places as a base for interaction. Healy has seen interest in outdoor fire features surpass that of indoor fire features in recent years, prompting designers to be creative with how they create social settings around them.
Barbara Keller, trade liaison for Outdoor Elegance, a designer of outdoor patio furniture, said designing around fire pits is moving toward creating a more natural outdoor aesthetic. “Hotels want outdoor design to be vibrant and not institutional,” Keller said. “There is a lot of crossover in design for residential and hospitality when it comes to fire pits.”
These modern designs include traditional clean lines in lieu of adorned scallops and swirls that create extra patterns. According to Healy, Spark Modern Fires is designing new fire pits meant to mesh with modern outdoor designs rather than forcing outdoor designs to fit within their parameters.
In the past, the majority of fire pits followed a similar theme of masonry material and earth tones designed to blend into the property. Spark released a cube-shaped fire pit with a red color scheme with the intent of making the entire pit a visual focal point. Drawing inspiration from the stark, monochromatic browns and whites of Spark Modern Fire’s native New England Winters, red was settled on as a color to make the design stand out.
Healy does not suggest placing a ring of continuous seating around a fire pit for guests to use, instead opting for sparse single or double seating options sprinkled around a pit’s perimeter.
“Visually, a ring of seating seems natural, but a disproportionate amount of travelers are solo,” Healy said. “A couch can create a barrier, and can make sitting with a group feel invasive where a single seat would not.”