The Geometric Fire Pit, designed by architect John Paul Plauché of Houston's Plodes Studio, gets my nomination for best portable fire pit ever.
A versatile piece that can also be used as a grill and, when not in use, a wood-topped table, the handcrafted Geometric Fire Pit is available in two metals—Corten steel or A36 low-carbon steel—and two sizes. The small fire pit measures about 31 inches square and stands 14 inches tall; the Corten steel version is $1,675 and the carbon steel version is $1,195, at Design Within Reach. The larger fire pit, 40 inches square and 14 inches high, is $2,145 and $1,850. They can be used to burn seasoned wood or charcoal.
Above: Both versions of the Geometric Fire Pit will rust when exposed to the elements; the rust becomes a protective layer. A drain plug “pipe” prevents coals and ash from falling through the opening, while still allowing airflow to help fuel the fire.
Above: An optional Fire Pit Steel Grate Top ($175 small; $289 large) adds grilling capability.
Above, two photos: When your fire pit is not in use (and fully cooled down), top it with the Fire Pit Cedar Top ($160 and $222) to transform it into a table.
Above: The Corten steel version of the Geometric Fire Pit will stop rusting after several months; the A36 carbon-steel model will continue to rust, blacken, and peel. But both of these fire pits are good for years' worth of al fresco evenings.
Updated from a post originally published July 13, 2012.
For more fire pit selections, see 10 Easy Pieces: Fire Pits and Bowls. And see Architects' Roundup: Fire Pits and Outdoor Fireplaces for lots more inspiration.