As hearths across the country are transformed this holiday season from utilitarian — if seldom used — heat sources to hosiery-laden vestibules reserved for hirsute home invaders toting large sacks, here’s a quick look at an intriguing design from Dutch duo Michiel Martens and Roel de Boer that's just begging to be fed a big ol’ yule log. And I’m not talking about delicious chocolate sponge cakes topped with marzipan mushrooms.

Like with Yuletide traditions of yore in which a single, plus-sized piece of tinder — sometimes an entire tree — was dragged into a home with much pomp and pageantry and christened with a bit of hooch before being set ablaze in the fireplace with the assistance of the remnants of the previous year’s log, Spruce Stove is designed so that a whole tree trunk/log, intact and in its entire length, can be burnt gradually from end to end instead of being chopped up into a whole bunch of cordwood that can easily fit inside of a stove. Because really, what a hassle.

Spruce Stove is a new approach to burning wood. A complete tree trunk can be fed into this compact stove. The aperture is a diaphragm and encloses seamlessly around the tree. By gently pushing the trunk inwards during the burning process the experience lasts as long as the trunk. 
While clever and visually arresting, a handful of design blogs have questioned the efficiency and safety of the Spruce Stove which was unveiled earlier this year at Dutch Design 2013 and is now for sale in extremely limited numbers for a little over $6,000. Gizmag’s Ben Coxworth, who compares using the finned cylindrical stove and its portable rolling stand to “feeding a pencil into a pencil sharpener,” asked Martens for his thoughts on the safety issue: "What many people think is that the fire will pop out of the stove, but it doesn't. The draft of the fire sucks the flames inwards,” he explains of the concrete brick-lined stove.

And then there’s the issue of convenience given that most of us probably don’t have the physical space to burn an entire tree trunk from end to end in our living rooms. To that Martens explains: "I always look for boundaries of expectation, you think you see what it is but there is always a strange angle in material use, shaping, flexibility or just the whole concept. It is a stove for people who are not afraid of a little adventure, it is a playful stove and you need to play with it to get the touch."

While Spruce Stove did a fine job at grabbing my attention, I'm going to stick with a Bûche de Noël and my super low-maintenance Netflix holiday hearth for the time being. Any thoughts on the design?

Via [Gizmag], [Dezeen]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Inventive stove makes chopping firewood a thing of the past
Ancient pagan traditions meet modern Dutch design with Spruce Stove, a clever heat source in which an entire tree truck is burnt at once.