The heat is on

27 October 2017

Summertime might well have died out but it’s time to ignite plans for next year with this design for a combined barbecue and patio heater. Stephen Holmes talks to consultancy IDC
about what sparked the idea

The Heat range is designed to provide a sophisticated touch to outdoor spaces

Entertaining friends around a barbecue on a sunny day, or a patio heater as the sun sets can be some of the most enjoyable experiences of the entire year.

Yet, combining both proficiencies into a single product has generally proved problematic: fire pits are too uncontrollable for cooking, while barbecues retain the odours of grilling and don’t direct their heat out to warm those nearby.

Seeking to tackle the challenge, Chesneys, a high-end stove manufacturer based in London, approached design consultancy IDC with an idea for a dual function product that could combine outdoor heating and cooking.

Beginning with a broad exploration of concept ideas and sketches, IDC worked with Chesneys to achieve a range of functionalities and features. These were then refined using Photoshop and Illustrator to create fast rendered visuals.

Factors such as the dimensions and ergonomics of such a unique product formed much of the focus. The design would form a range of products, named Heat, and all variations of the designs needed to both be tall enough to cook over, yet also low enough to heat seated guests.

Card and wood prototypes were then built to test ideas before moving the design into SolidWorks where it was progressed into engineering and design for manufacture.

The design team made much use of the CAD tool’s sheet metal functions.

Adjustable airflow and heat insulation were key considerations, whilst a balance had to be struck between vision for the form and cost-effective manufacture.

Two designs were chosen to be prototyped by Chesneys’ manufacturing team, and these forms directed the designs of the product range.

The heat control for the barbecue means it can be used to grill, roast, bake, smoke and wok cook food at the temperature required

Two functions in one

A directional air supply was engineered for the Heat range so the unit would produce significantly less smoke than a standard barbecue. Its short, stainless steel flue pipe directs what little smoke there is away from the cooking area, while being designed to be an eye-catching aesthetic feature in itself.

Fulfilling the role of the product as a dual function barbecue and outdoor heater, the design allows the internal baffle to be adjusted, forming the basis of the temperature control system.

Capable of delivering up to 700 degrees of radiant heat, the mechanism was made so sensitive that the barbecue could be used to grill, roast, bake, smoke and wok cook food at the temperature required.

Additionally, the baffle rotates to deflect heat from the front of the stove, protecting the cook’s legs, the glass window from cooking residue and soot, or alternatively to direct heat outwards to warm those sitting nearby.

Factors such as the dimensions and ergonomics of such a unique product formed much of the design focus

Sophisticated touch

IDC’s industrial designers used a combination of different materials to create a sophisticated look for the product.

The main unit was made from painted steel and this was broken up by a stainless-steel strip to the lid as well as a stainless-steel base and log storage area.

Rounded wooden work tops were added either side of the grill and elegant handles completed the image of what will form a luxury product.

“Understanding all requirements, along with manufacturing constraints, allowed these varying approaches to be down selected,” says IDC senior industrial designer Nick Chubb.

“As the thinking on form, usability and ergonomics all progressed, the sizes of other SKUs had to be defined and these were explored through the initial rough card models.”

Three different sizes of the same product were required, a task IDC handled using a single parametric master model in SolidWorks with the aid of equations. As the design team altered the equations, the different sized models could easily be created.

The full range of Heat products was rendered into summer garden scenes using Keyshot, which when added to close-up shots of celebrity chefs using working prototypes, gave Chesneys enough marketing materials to quickly get the product to market.

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