Quality and comfort reign supreme, justified by the hostile environment – wind, rain, sun – and the stress to which this furniture is exposed. It is therefore best to opt for reliable and durable products, in keeping with the times, and the strategy of almost every brand (Fast). Accessories are king, from outdoor rugs to footstools, benches, hammocks, swings and rocking chairs that are making a timid comeback. Consoles and side tables are another must. But the lighting is really setting out to impress. In all its forms, from classic lanterns to floating pool lamps that turn water into liquid light (Lotus by Calma) and versions equipped with speakers.
Extending a permanent invitation to hang out, the high or low sofas come in linear and horizontal forms. Warm wood – especially teak (sourced from responsible and certified forests) – remains one of the essential furniture materials with particularly pared-down lines. Rot-proof and resistant to humidity, the advantage of teak is that it can be left outside, as is the case for aluminium furniture – very much in vogue -, stainless steel and polypropylene rope (Cassina) or woven resin. The trend is to mix materials, with aluminium serving as a frame for wood, which is in turn adorned with braided rope. Hand-finished is another sought-after criterion.
Even if you don’t have a garden that offers natural shade, there are many ways of finding protection against the midday sun. Beautifully anchored sunshades are showing off a wealth of ingenuity, not only in terms of technology, but also through their increasingly inventive colours, some of which are mass-coloured. They not only provide shade, but also create an atmosphere, while the premium ranges even guarantee protection against UV, heat, light and even the weather thanks to the special coating. Roller blinds are fully automated and remote-controlled. Equipped with articulated arms, they are the optimal way of procuring natural freshness and can be extended over very large areas, as is the case for the Lux by Harol, winner of a Red Dot Design Award. For the high-end experience, they can also be fitted with LEDs and heating.
The art of leisure
We are seeing a growing trend towards “lounge” areas. Armchairs with wide seats and plush depths, generous and enveloping shapes or organic woven shells with a sculpted wooden base and a high backrest (Manutti), retro influence, hand-turned and hand-finished iroko wood (Flexform), graceful lines, natural weaves, careful upholstery and numerous voluptuous cushions made of polyester fibre. The marriage of aesthetics and innovation allows us to sit back and relax without a care in the world.
All about sustainability
“The challenge is to create a design that is beautiful and ergonomic yet environmentally friendly at the same time,” explains designer Mathias De Ferm. The sustainability of a piece of furniture depends on its life cycle, its lifetime and the subsequent processing of its waste. Most of its components should be reusable. Today, the use of recycled and recyclable materials is more than just a trend, it has become a necessity. Labelled wood comes from controlled logging in reforested areas. Untreated wood (Gommaire) plays with the beauty of natural patinas. Aluminium can be treated to increase its strength and durability in various weather conditions. When it comes to rugs, recycled polyethylene fibres, for example, are as soft as cotton, making them pleasant to the touch without running the risk of detracting from the aesthetic. New, environmentally-friendly fibres are constantly being sought, such as econyl and seasilk at Limited Edition. The advanced fabrics used for the cushion covers are made of water-repellent, UV-resistant polyester and are mass-coloured to preserve their colours and thus their durability.
Untreated wood (Gommaire) plays with the beauty of natural patinas. Aluminium can be treated to increase its strength and durability in various weather conditions. When it comes to rugs, recycled polyethylene fibres, for example, are as soft as cotton, making them pleasant to the touch without running the risk of detracting from the aesthetic. New, environmentally-friendly fibres are constantly being sought, such as econyl and seasilk at Limited Edition. The advanced fabrics used for the cushion covers are made of water-repellent, UV-resistant polyester and are mass-coloured to preserve their colours and thus their durability.
Today, keeping furniture as light as possible to make it as manoeuvrable as possible is a major concern. Foolproof resistance is another selling point, thanks to new materials such as polypropylene (Souvenir, Pedralis), aluminium (Roda) or steel(Joli). Focusing on the increasingly ingenious details is also a deal-clincher, perfectly illustrated by Paola Lenti, whose different collections are versatile and adapted to various environments. Customisation is naturally factored in, especially at Royal Botania, which offers a choice of eleven colours, seven sizes, different shapes and extensions for some of its table tops. The Calypso model comes with zippered covers in a range of textiles that can be endlessly mixed and matched.
A tribute to craftsmanship
This is the new dream team. Noble materials such as teak or wood and reusable, malleable aluminium are combined with rope and resin woven sometimes by hand – to create decorative, dense or airy lace on the backs. A fitting tribute to the ancient craft of rattan and basketry, and catering to the tastes of those who set great store by authenticity with a touch of modernity in the materials used. The neutral, chic and timeless colours of the cushions – beige, ochre, off-white, sand, ecru, light grey, honey – are the perfect allies, blending in with the surrounding nature or take off in the opposite direction, covering the whole spectrum from terracotta to magenta.
Modularity and chic minimalism
Modularity is of the essence when it comes to seating systems. It is all about dividing and conquering. After all, you may want to slip a side table in between the seats with serpentine stone or teak tops and square, rectangular or trapezoidal shapes. Your imagination can run wild … without skimping on elegance, as demonstrated by B&B Italia with a stylish striped fabric. For the tables, the qualities of ceramic, lava stone or fine and stainless steel (Joli) are musts, alongside warm wood, for often rectangular trays with a marked yet simple Japanese influence.
When it comes to lounging by the poolside, the world is your oyster. How about a custom-made lava stone, hand-painted in infinite shades of aquamarine blue (made with the help of Meubili for Domiziani)? Or why not splash out on deckchairs that copy the shimmering reflections as if they had solidified and scattered into preciously assembled polycarbonate gems (Edra). In a mixture of steel and aluminium, low lounge furniture with geometric lines and soft curves (Fermob) acts as a dining area as well as a relaxation area. A living space which, at nightfall, is illuminated by wireless or touch-controlled lights which transform the atmosphere into a fairy tale with the slightest gesture.