spark of originality Spark Modern Fires aims to change the notion that gas fireplaces can't work in modern settings. The Redding, Conn., company eschews the shapes and materials common in traditional fireplaces, creating objets d'art instead. Its latest model, the Fire Ribbon direct vent, is set in a simple rectangular surround that can be speced in any material. The glass-covered firebox measures 36 inches wide by 17 inches high by 12 3/4 inches deep and is 80 percent efficient. Spark Modern Fires, 866.938.3846;

no-fade shades The UltraLites collection from Chatsworth, Calif.-based UltraGlas is comprised of kiln-formed glass panels that have been fused with lead-free pigments to create architectural glass that won't lose its color. The resulting panels--available in sizes and shapes measuring up to 80 inches by 126 inches and in thicknesses of up to 3/4 inches--can be frosted, etched, or treated with a variety of finishes. Standard and custom colors are available. UltraGlas, 800.777.2332;

wood works Mesquite thrives in harsh, dry environments, but Ann Sacks suspected the wood could be equally durable in architectural applications. To prove it, the Portland, Ore.-based designer of architectural surfacing materials developed a line of mesquite floor and wall tiles that can withstand the atmospheric moisture of bathrooms and other damp environments. (Wet areas, such as showers, should be avoided, however.) Available in various sizes and styles, the tiles come with a UV-protected natural finish or a walnut stain. Ann Sacks Tile & Stone, 800.278.8453;