Elena Colombo’s Fire Art

Elena Colombo of Colombo Construction Co. has something to say about incorporating natural elements into design (and by “natural” I mean “fundamental,” as in earth, air, fire, and water).

Horizontal Corten Steel Branch Wall. Designed by Elena Colombo.

And we should listen, since her collection of fireplaces, fire “bowls,” fire “walls,” and-I kid you not-fire “tables” is about the most astounding example of humanity harnessing nature since Newton got knocked on the head. Or, better said, the best example of humanity inviting nature in-to our patios, our homes, our places of employ. But best to let Ms. Colombo have her say: “Fire is a destination wherever it burns. It serves both our need for beauty and our instinct to gather around a warm, lighted place. I would like to restore the hearth as a ceremonial place and as a point of convergence.”

I love the notion that “fire is a destination” since it recognizes both attraction (as a site of nurturing and ritural gathering as well as pragmatic tool) and repulsion (potential as destructive force). Colombo and her creations seem invested in acknowledging the element in all its complexity, while simultaneously harnessing it mid-draught in the illusion that it’s untamed. Her pieces-some of which are not so much consumable product but actual full-scale art installations-all toy with the idea of fire’s dual nature, yet provide a safe and beautiful way to bring fire into any design scheme, whether inside or out.

Some notables:

“Fire Arc”-an 8 ft. by 10 ft. curved sheet of Cor-Ten Steel with tiered burners covered in metal “branches.” The steel sheet acts as a wind break, while the branches provide a safety screen from the flame and facilitate the illusion that they are being consumed. The effect of the whole is as a cross-section of a massive bonfire (one that you can extinguish at the flip of a switch). Also reminds me of something vaguely oracular-I’m thinking the search for truth at the founts of the Delphi…

Elena Colombo's Fire Art

“Hanging Fire Table”-a slab of stainless steel in the shape of an ellipse (so much more mysterious than a simple circle) with firebowl in the center and eight semi-circular impressions ringed around the circumference. As above, the piece evokes reverence for the wonders of nature–and that’s what I call a centerpiece!

Elena Colombo's Fire Art

Silver Vein Powdercoat-a simple bowl in blackened pewter filled with coal “briquettes.” Eminently portable, it’s a great way to bring the fire to the party.

Elena Colombo's Fire Art

Floating Waterbowl-bowl with etched art nouveau pattern in powder-coated steel mounted on glass above a collecting pool filled with variegated pebbles. At night with the central flame lit, this piece creates the illusion that bowl and flame are suspended above the water on a uniform filament of translucent liquid.

Elena Colombo's Fire Art

Whether you desire to go big (check out her “Revolving Mirror Chain,” which would require an estate replete with private lake), or to make a smaller gesture, Elena Colombo’s sculptures in fire will help you bring the most volatile of nature’s elements into your home.

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