Design Centre Stories

A Complement to Nature

Outdoor furniture and fabrics are where technical innovation meets imaginative design. The ‘al-fresco economy’ was booming even before the circumstances of the past 18 months meant the need to spend more time outside – and from a design perspective, these are exciting times for those looking to create a garden, terrace, yacht sundeck or poolside with personality and soul.

These ‘Sun’ daybeds (above) by Paola Lenti (available from Interdesign UK) demonstrate some of the technical prowess that lies behind outdoor furniture: its curvy shell is made from Diade, a waterproof plastic specially developed by the company, which is embedded with woven fabric that gives it a organic-looking, textured appearance. The daybed is the work of Italian product designer Francesco Rota, who has created a family of other products for Paolo Lenti this year, including the ‘Canvas’ sofa, whose cushions sit within a sling of fabric that forms the back and sides.

Further Italian brands have also been working collaboratively with celebrated designers to create outdoor collections. Flexform continues its longstanding relationship with Antonio Citterio with the ‘Ansel’ sofa (pictured above), which contrasts iroko slats with a slim steel base, while Luca Nichetto’s Venexia furniture for Ethimo (pictured top) features cocooning slim aluminium slats holding generously padded cushions, with coordinating occasional tables.

Dedicated craftsmanship is just as much a feature of outdoor furniture as it is for its indoor counterparts. Dutch architecture and design studio Piet Boon (available at Tollgård) creates collections that balance functionality, aesthetics and individuality. Pieces such as the ‘Anne’ dining table, ‘Niek’ chair and ‘Lars’ sofa, chairs and and coffee table (all pictured above) have simple lines that let the beauty of the natural timber shine through.

Colour and pattern and becoming an ever-more important part of outdoor living as we seek the same degree of personal expression when decorating both inside and out. Andrew Martin has reworked some of its favourite designs as performance textiles for the Great Outdoors collection (‘Reef’ and ‘Glacier’ are pictured above left) while McKinnon and Harris’ ‘Couper’ backless bench is pictured above centre in a smart blue and white striped livery. Perennials’ Villa del Sol collection features plenty of joyful pattern, such as the lush, botanically inspired ‘Palmetto’ (pictured above right).

Colour carries across to furniture too: Ethimo’s ‘Rafael’ table (pictured above) features a table top in an enamelled lava stone: each one is patinated in a unique way, resulting in a finish that’s as deep and multi-toned as the sea.

Many of these collections have an application indoors as well. Transitional spaces such as conservatories and winter gardens benefit from furniture and fabrics that are fade-resistant, while textiles that are bleach-clean and water-resistant make excellent choices for rooms expected to have additional wear and tear, from children’s bedrooms to kitchen banquettes.

Shop the best outdoor furniture here.

Andrew Martin, Ground Floor, North Dome
Ethimo, Third Floor, Centre Dome
Flexform, Ground Floor, South Dome
Interdesign UK, Ground Floor, South Dome
McKinnon and Harris, Second Floor, North Dome
Perennials Sutherland Studio, Second Floor, North Dome & Third Floor, Centre Dome
Tollgård, First Floor, Centre Dome

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