This spring, another of the barriers between indoor and outdoor living is being removed. With several well-known design icons reimagined for all weathers, and a wealth of innovative new ranges on the way from high-end brands that previously declined to even set foot in the garden, it’s clear that luxury and excellent modern craftsmanship are having a moment in the sun.
Equally at home by the pool or on the patio as they are inside, these new outdoor furniture collections incorporate hi-tech materials such as carbon fibre and finely woven polypropylene yarns to accurately reproduce the comfort of their indoor-only counterparts, but with the added extra benefit of increased durability. The result is a refreshing kind of flexibility.
Blazing a trail is Cassina with its ‘Outdoor’ range. There are tables, sofas and accessories by renowned designers, including Rodolfo Dordoni (above, top), Philippe Starck and Patricia Urquiola. Its masterstroke, though, is transforming iconic products from the ‘LC Collection’ into outdoor design. Charlotte Perriand’s 1947 ‘Doron Hotel’ armchair has become the ‘Doron Hotel Outdoor’ – an inviting seat with a soft, rounded frame, devised in collaboration with the designer’s daughter Pernette Perriand Barsac.
Similarly, the famous ‘LC3’ armchair, created by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand in 1923, has been reimagined with a frame in specially textured paint and canvas. ‘The technology available today has allowed us to find solutions to enable this collection, and render it not only functional but also imbue it with a high aesthetic value,’Luca Fuso, Cassina’s CEO, reveals. ‘We carried out a lot of research to find a material that could guarantee the same comfort as the feather padding on the indoor chair. The result was ‘SoloSoff ’, an air-blown polyester fibre with memory foam.’
And Cassina is not alone in stepping outdoors: B&B Italia, Ligne Roset, Flexform and Minotti have been busy blue-sky thinking for some time. ‘Over the last few years, we have been asked to turn some of our products into durable outdoor versions suitable for yachts and seaside resorts,’ recalls Saul Galimberti, head of Flexform’s design and research department.
‘So the collection was born from this practical design experience. Outdoor space is now considered more of an extension of indoor and therefore deserves the same careful design consideration. Whether a porch, a patio, a terrace or a balcony, it’s increasingly becoming an additional room.’
What’s revolutionary is that brands aren’t simply offering designs in standard outdoor materials; technical textiles that feel coarse to the touch have been replaced by softer, futuristic fabrics – produced in colours and patterns similar to interior textiles. ‘We’re constantly experimenting with weaves and yarns from 100 per cent solution-dyed acrylic,’says David Sutherland, founder of Perennials, a leader in luxury performance fabrics and Sutherland outdoor furniture collections.‘We now have a plethora of velvets, bouclés, and even jacquards that would not have been possible 20 years ago.’
The fabrics are dyed while the fibres are in a liquid state – so that the colour cannot fade – while solution-dyed acrylic is both abrasion-resistant and can be woven into fabric that feels like cotton or silk. Sutherland’s ‘Otti’ range, a collaboration with Vincent Van Duysen and inspired by textile designer Otti Berger, showcases this beautifully, blending aluminium frames with luxury upholstery.
Tactile to the touch and pleasing to the eye, these collections are truly innovative.Blurring the boundaries between indoor and outdoor has never looked so good.
This article appeared in the April 2020 issue of ELLE Decoration.
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