Patios have never been more important than during quarantine.

May 13, 2020

For anyone who likes to entertain, social distancing carries an additional pointed pain. Even when regulations begin to relax, will we really want to sit around a once convivially crowded table enclosed in four walls? “I think that as we are able to gather, the first places we will do this is outdoors,” said New York interior designer Kammi Reiss in this month’s Wall Street Journal article on the subject of what’s trending and ending in outdoor furniture. Here’s what’s hot, and what’s shot:

“The open-air and sunlight will feel more safe than closed-in tight spaces.”

We tapped hundreds of design professionals to get their reads on this unique summer’s outdoor furnishing directions. For each, we’ve offered specific suggestions both pricey and affordable, so you can shop the trends no matter your means. Read more, ‘How To Improve Your Outdoor Space.’

1. House-Worthy Patio Pieces

The favourite outdoor trend is furnishings that appear to belong indoors. Improved materials and finishes make it possible to layer unpredictable pieces and to transcend expectations. Though sturdy teak furniture is a patio stalwart, brands have begun deftly integrating slivers of the wood into more sinuous forms made of other materials. For example, 1stdibs’s is a great source of things such as a Sandglass side table that features a teak top and powder-coated aluminum base, while West Elm’s Mexa design incorporates nylon cord. With their mixed finishes, these two seem to have escaped from a living room, yet both will stand up to the elements. Read more, ‘Architect’s Top Outdoor Furniture Picks.’

2. Watching the Weaves Change Colour

Paola Lenti produces a chair with a clever and unexpected blend of colour. For years, the only colour conversation in outdoor furniture was primary or pastel.  Multihued weaves hammer the final nail in the safe-colour coffin. Ms. Lenti’s lounge comes in hundreds of colourways. Textiles, textures, colours and weaves allow for incredible personalisation,” says Ms. Lenti, “but also a vibrancy that promotes a sense of joy.” Of MoMA’s more accessibly priced new retro aluminum-framed folder, Amanda Lindroth, a designer based in the Bahamas, said, “It reminds me of childhood. Everyone carried those chairs to the beach and sat high up over the sand.” Read more, ‘How To Improve Your Outdoor Space.’

3. For Love of the Flame

With our options for places to relax and recreate drastically curtailed, patios are increasingly becoming outdoor living rooms. If you add a heat source, those alfresco spaces can be enjoyed from early spring well into Autumn. Fire pits, already popular but newly relevant, let us escape to open-air seating areas that are an antidote to screen time, a source of calm and serenity, said Los Angeles-based landscape designer Patricia Benner. She favours designs of hardworking corten steel: “I love the weathered, earthy patina of the naturally oxidized finish.” Robert Plumb produces a popular range, while Design Within Reach’s line arrives assembled. Read more, ‘This Fire Pit Is The Perfect to Your Autumn.’

If you add a heat source, those alfresco spaces can be enjoyed from early Spring

well into Autumn.

4. Dark Matters

Something traditional like wicker, usually found in natural or white, looks fresh and current in black,” said Stefan Beckman, whose design studio produces homewares under the label Lateral Objects. Of the almost-black nautical rope used to execute the weatherproof, it turns a classic wicker basket on its head. The affordable carryall designs suddenly popping up, meanwhile, let people cart interior accessories like cushions out to a terrace and back, another trend. “I keep baskets near our patio doors and bring them outside when needed,” said Joanna Leung, vice president at Ratana Outdoor Furniture. Read more, ‘Your Outdoor Furniture Furniture: 5 Mistakes To Avoid.’

5. Curvy, Cosy, Comfy 

If you ask New York designer Keita Turner, the boom in bulbous, enveloping outdoor furniture might reflect our collective desire to return to the womb. Her other theory: People “are opting for an alternative to the boxy, clean, linear shapes” that have dominated the market in recent years. Judy Olson Dunne of New York’s Butter and Eggs Interiors concurs: “The shapes are interesting and typically very comfortable.” The concave seat of Ligne Roset’s new outdoor version of its 1965 modular Saparella Sofa (left) beckons like an adult cradle. Of the Repp Patio Sofa (right) with its tufted seat cushion, Ms. Turner said, “It could hardly be more inviting if it tried.”

6. So Long Fairy Lights

Experts have pulled the plug on string lights, which they think are overused and just too cutesy looking. Plus, you need to be wary of the unflattering glow of exposed-filament bulbs. Instead we will seek the grown-up glow of outdoor light fixtures with shaded fabrics, and randomly placed, low indirect lighting creating special moments and highlights.


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