Florida Primeval Fireplace - CODAworx

Florida Primeval Fireplace

Client: Private Client

Location: Miami, FL, United States

Completion date: 2023

Artwork budget: $80,000

Project Team


Lead Artist/Project Manager

Elle Terry Leonard (Dean)

Architectural Ceramics

Designing Sculptor

Charles Dean

Architectural Ceramics

Interior Design

Phyllis Taylor

Taylor & Taylor Partnership

Custom Ceramic Installer

Tony Rochette

Southwestrock, Inc

Client assistant

Lisa Deangelis


Florida Primeval, is a custom ceramic fireplace with heavily sculpted relief. The fireplace surround box is 10’ x 10’ x 2’, reaching the ceiling and sittings on a 16’ x 3’ x 3’ platform of handmade tile. The fireplace spans the far wall of a large rectangular room where one complete side is open to the pool patio and the bay beyond. The other two sides give access to the house. The scale and outside/inside element make this room the perfect gathering place.


The goal was to create a focal point that would not only anchor the large indoor/outdoor space but call people to gather there. A fireplace was a perfect choice to accomplish both. Clients wanted the fireplace to be a piece of art. Ceramics was the perfect medium, withstands the elements, is permanent and beautiful. The result was a permanent dynamic focal point, a piece of art that can be seen from the entire house, inside or out.


The project began as a collaboration of three, Client, Designer and Artist. The house site is a lush, tropical jungle. We wanted to bring the outside in. The fireplace would be the meeting point where outside and inside met. A final drawing was chosen, glaze colors decided. We now had a drawing from which to begin the clay work.
The Drawing came to life in the studio. Our, Charles Dean and myself collaboration yielded results beyond what we had expected.
Another important collaboration was with the ceramic installer. We had a huge, fragile, relief jigsaw puzzle which needed to be expertly installed, without breaking any of the 364 pieces that made up the fireplace surround alone. He did. Yes, he is that good.

Additional Information

All the plants on the fireplace are all from our backyard garden. It was joyful to go out in the garden and gather the specific leaf as a model for that day's clay sculpting.