Dimplex has long been recognized as one of the leaders in the electric fireplace industry for their incredible technological advancements in realism and functionality. We caught up with Dimplex Product Manager, David Neufeld, to learn more…
How long have you been with Dimplex?
I have worked with Dimplex for 5 years.
Is there a product or product line you are particularly proud of?
I am really proud of our new "Prism" line of wall mounts. Our BLF 50" has been a star in our portfolio for many years. We expanded it two years ago to include 34" and 74" sizes and last year undertook updating the controls and adding color to the flame experience. It has been very well received.
Because of the original BLF's success we decided to keep the core aesthetics intact. We started with a desire to enhance the flame using colors at the base of the flame – and created 7 themes and a full spectrum mode that you can freeze to select your favorite color. Next we focused on improving the ember bed illumination by extending it to the ends of the unit and added a new "Sparkle" effect that our R&D engineers created that adds movement and excitement. Finally we updated the on board controls and remote to offer a full function remote with on screen display and temperature setting thermostat control.
Dimplex products are a blend of art and technology. Where do you go for inspiration for these designs?
Well thank you for saying that, we do pride ourselves on both those aspects and honestly I am lucky to be able to work with international designers and benefit from Dimplex being the only electric fireplace company to have a full in house R&D lab.
If you look at the first electric fireboxes they were really styled after what the gas fireplace industry was doing, big grills, lots of metal, clunky controls etc…
Now it has all changed, the gas market is taking design queues from us and they are now minimizing the metal surrounds, adding contemporary ember beds and improving their remotes.
We get inspiration from a lot of places, we study the home and hearth industries, and do a lot of trend research on home décor and new home construction. For our flames and logs, well I'll tell you a secret…we actually make real fires. We get firewood and create dozens of fires, take pictures, extinguish the logs at the peak of the fire, and then use those images to inspire our flame shapes and the actual logs to make our master moulds. If you look at our logs you can tell they are all hand painted and formed from real logs.
Can you walk us through your process for creating or advancing a new product?
It's basically a circle. It starts and ends with the consumer. We try very hard to listen to our customers. Understand what they are looking for, what types of products they are purchasing, and asking for in new construction and what are they adding to their homes when renovating?
Then we meet with designers and engineers from our domestic R&D lab in Canada and our parent company in Ireland to blend the art with the technology. As the concept flows from design to prototype we check in regularly with key customer groups to ensure we are on track.
A lot of time and energy is spent weighing out the cost vs. benefits of each aspect of the product to ensure we are bringing value to our customer. Once we are confident that we are ready, we introduce the product. We participate in more than 50 tradeshows, and customer reviews per year. That's when we really see if we got it right.
Ultimately the customer votes with their purchase and completes the circle. Once the product has been in the market for 6 months, we start the audit phase and review the whole process, identifying its successes and those areas where we can make improvements.
What's the most challenging part of your job?
Getting people to understand how important the flame effect is when selecting an electric fireplace. So many people focus only on the cost of a unit, and with all the cheap alternatives out there, few get a chance to see our units side by side. Trust me, when you do, you can tell the difference and it's that difference that keeps you loving the product after you have had it in your house for awhile.
Can you give us any peeks into future products or ideas?
Last year we introduced new flame and heating technologies into our premium Fireboxes, and we're currently working to incorporate those stories into our wall mount lines.
What's next for Dimplex's industry leading advancements in electric fireplace technology?
We are obsessed with realism, making the most realistic flame and fire effect in the industry and we have a couple of new patents we are working on, but that's all I can say at this point…