There are those who would say that radiators are a functional necessity for any centrally heated building. To put it technically, they are heat convectors transferring thermal energy from one medium to another in order to heat a specific space. When a radiator is unexpectedly cold, it sends a shudder of panic through your system, but as a rule they go unnoticed from day to day.
Design-wise, radiators have barely changed in the last 150 years. The early Victorian loop designs are still popular today, whether they be reclaimed antiques or reproduced designer radiators. The standard panel radiators that the majority of us grew up with are still responsible for heating most of our homes and they are designed to be discreetly tucked away under windowsills and behind doors. But what if we were to embrace our need to heat by making features of our heating systems, creating bespoke radiators that are not just judged by their thermal unit capacity but that are to be admired and featured within a room.
The art of heating is taking on many new interesting and exciting forms. Swedish designer, Hedvig Af Ekenstam's knitted radiator is created using heating cables looped together like a piece of knitting. It forms a flexible and lightweight heated transparent screen, that's adjustable in size and thus is adaptable to any room. It is, therefore functional and easy on the eye.
In May this year, artist Tian Ye created an Installation at the Beijing Art Expo called ' Red Piano', which was a large scale grand piano made entirely of red radiator tubing. Now this was not designed to be used as a source of heat, but it is an interesting concept to produce art from function.
Heated pipes can take on many shapes and forms and a designer radiator can be created to give the impression of piece of wall art, whether it be minimal and modern or baroque and antiquated. Radiators are to be admired by dinner guests as would a fine painting or statue. One can even recreate your favourite view in photographic panels that will provide you with a warm glow, literally.
So maybe the next time we are looking to heat a room or an office, we should steer away from discreet and compact and take the plunge with a piece of bespoke radiator art that says a little more about who we are.
Kate is a home improvement enthusiast, she has a particular interest in modern cast iron radiators and historic radiators.