Behind the Design: STRIKE fireplaces for Ann Sacks

Start here and as if by magic, watch the room come together. That’s the thought behind STRIKE fireplaces for Ann Sacks, a stunning new collection of stone fireplace surrounds by Dallas designer Chad Dorsey.

Written by Sophie Donelson
Photography by Douglas Friedman



Years of designing and building houses offered Chad Dorsey one very specific insight: good stone is something you won’t soon forget. “Stone is such a big part of the look and feel of the home,” says the designer. “Alongside architecture, it’s the stone that you take away — on the floors, the walls, and the fireplace. These are places you want to put energy and budget into. They’re that important.”

Dorsey, a trained architect with offices in Dallas and Los Angeles, had been working with fabricators on one-of-a-kind stone fireplace surrounds for years before launching STRIKE, a brand dedicated to that art, in 2020. Now with Ann Sacks, Dorsey has created six unique profiles with myriad color and finish choices, for an unprecedented array of room-defining luxury.

Each fireplace begins with a block of stone that’s expertly cut to ensure the best showing of color and veining. Smaller cut segments are then hand-carved, smoothed, and filed — and finally, depending on desired finish, either sand-tooled or honed by hand and assembled.

Commitment to sculptural beauty and material integrity defines Dorsey’s work. He has new residences for Auberge on the horizon and a forthcoming book with Assouline. As of March, his STRIKE fireplaces for Ann Sacks enter the picture.

“It’s exciting to bring this to market; even architects and designers don’t have access to solid blocks of stone,” says Dorsey. “These aren’t slabs that are mitered together, this is a piece truly carved by hand, it’s something that can last hundreds of years, something to be passed down. These are that special.”

When you started designing fireplaces, did you have the sense that you were designing the heart of the home?

It’s true: furniture arrangements always center around the fireplace, whether you notice it or not. You’ll rarely turn your back on a fireplace. Architecturally it’s such an important piece, it’s what makes a room inviting. And since we look at it so much, it’s powerful to have a fireplace that you think is cool, one that you think about after you’ve left the room.

If you look around regionally, it’s become quite commonplace in warmer climates to have a fireplace. No doubt, the rise in outdoor living has fuelled this, too.

We see them everywhere. We’re installing them in homes in California, Las Vegas, and Florida — for the cool nights but also for the ambience. With the ease of a gas insert, that ambience is now something you can turn on and off. But these are beautiful whether you're burning a fire or not.

You’ve been working with stone for many years now. How has your understanding of the material evolved?

My knowledge of marbles and stones is so much stronger now. Now I can say: I think you're better off going with one of these stones with this profile because it shows the properties of the stone, or for the way the profile’s shadows complement it. The Alessio and the Augusto respond to everything as they’ve classic shapes.

Were there any stones that surprised you?

There’s a cantera stone, which is a volcanic stone called Pepper that partners really well with the Stella profile. It feels like a perfect fit.

And which profile is the early favorite?

A lot of people will say Stella because it's just incredible. It reminds me of the Flatiron building in New York. It’s taking that scallop or fluting shape that we love so much and applying a 45-degree angle and then introducing an arch, which is a very welcoming shape and so unusual on a rectangular firebox. It’s something that not everyone will have.

One totally unexpected facet of this collaboration is the options for customization — and in surprisingly creative ways!

I knew designers especially would love combining finishes on the same piece, such as a smooth, honed finish with something rougher, like a sandblasted finish. On Bella, for example, I love the body in a honed finish and the arch in a rougher, sandblasted finish like Antico, or even French Quarter the most distressed of the finishes. That one really draws out the marble’s varied shades and contrasting veining colors.

But there’s also the chance to combine stones and colorways, such as with a pair of stones on Bella, or even combining multiple colors, such as on the Stella or the Gemma.

You photographed a beautiful version of Gemma, something really unique!

For me personally, the Gemma is the most exciting of all the products because its flexibility is just incredible. There’s an option for Gemma we’re calling Calico and it’s just crazy, I love it so much. The profile is made of individual squares of stone and we’ve done a version with six or eight different stones, that is, to me, the most exciting work I’ve done. It’s something totally different.

How did that design come to be?

It came together kind of magically. I had already planned a trip to Italy around the time I began developing this collection and I was taking pictures and sketching while I was there in Tuscany and Siena. Architecture always inspires me but it’s not necessarily just the cities that draw me in, but rural structures, too. Gemma was inspired by the windows of a 19th century Italian farmhouse I’d seen while traveling that region.

For designers and homeowners, can you offer advice on choosing the most complementary or pleasing fireplace profile for a room?

Scale is the first thing. A small space needs a surround that’s not overwhelming — Enzo, Alessio or Augusto are good choices. And then it’s design and material. If you’re more traditional, there are single-stone options in classic marble varieties that make sense. If you’re seeking a more streamlined style, or something no one else has, there are options for that, too. But all of these are classic fireplaces with classic proportions that will not look trendy in 30 years. My goal was to offer something with architectural integrity that will never look like, "hey 2024!"

March 8, 2024

Also in The Insider

The Biggest Trends of 2023 by Sophie Donelson & Clinton Smith

These six trends are too good to let fade away with the calendar year; which will you usher into 2024 and beyond?

New Collections with Earthly Elegance by Clinton Smith

Get back to nature with Ann Sacks’ latest designs. Our Chief Designer, DeeDee Gundberg, shows you how.

Kitchen Wisdom by Sophie Donelson

The kitchen reno conundrum: It’s hard to decide where to splurge and the choices you commit to are lasting. Here, some industry pros talk honestly about what's worth it and why.