In 2019 / ’20, the search for well-being is a key human behaviour trait. It’s particularly evident in the design for exterior areas where outdoor furniture is becoming softer, more comfortable and practical. As has happened within the adjacent interior, today’s crossover and exterior living design aesthetics feature natural materials chosen for their perennial appeal.

Patio and terrace furniture isn’t as subject to trend vagaries as other residential home décor elements and there are aspects to its design and style that are vital to its ongoing appeal, such as high-quality materials. The latest collections present with well engineered upholstered seating in designs offering comfort
and spaciousness.

Overall, the coming season indicates that there’ll be plenty of natural wood, rattan and wicker, matched to textiles that complement what is sometimes a pleasingly earthy signature.

A notable outdoor design trend is to decorate the exterior areas with the same attention given to interior spaces through the inclusion of upholstered furniture, textiles and coordinating accessories, creating genuine living rooms outside.

How then do we define the successful components of a crossover area with indoor / outdoor flow?

‘From the outset, the most important aspect is the furniture,’ says Mia Delport of Patio Warehouse. ‘It’s a case of what and where on the patio. If relaxation is key, then a lounge set is ideal; a dining set being more suitable to meet requirements for guest entertainment. Choose pieces that suit the exterior architectural signature and consider climate protection, as well as furniture items which need low maintenance and are of light weight for rearranging.’

A spokesperson for Italian import Flexform marketed in SA by Il Lusso adds: ‘Today, outdoor space – whether large or small for deck,  porch or patio – is increasingly becoming the place to fully enjoy every season. Here, furnishings have reached new heights in terms of performance and durability, reflecting the perfect blend of elegance and comfort.

‘We’ve recently debuted in the outdoor realm with our first collection, designed to deliver the same comfort and understated elegance as indoor peers. Each is conceived as an alfresco living room; a combination of sofas, armchairs, coffee and side tables and ottomans, which create a meaningful dialogue.’

‘Besides the obvious features that include durability, low maintenance and comfort, outdoor furniture needs to be stylish and should enhance these personal environments with statement pieces,’ says Karen Liebmann of French designer / manufacturer Ligne Roset. ‘And with outdoor spaces increasingly becoming extensions of the interior, there’s a need for outdoor furniture that’s as suitable indoors as it is out.

‘An example and recent newcomer is Saparella, a low-slung sofa designed by Michael Ducaroy with a modular seat: three armchair elements connected by concealed stainless-steel joints that can be arranged as desired and is available in white with a touch of coral.’

What are the latest materials in crossover furniture for both frames and upholstery?

Mira Sydow of Roche Bobois Cape Town says: ‘Bearing in mind that seamless flow between indoor and outdoor living areas is key, redefining these living spaces ensures both practical and inviting use of space. A sympathetic way to unify them entails establishing a design through-line and reinforcing continuity in relation to style, colour and texture. This synergy can be explored by utilising weather-resistant materials such as perforated foam, cataphoresis treated metal and water-varnished composite wood, which has been treated for outdoor use. Perforated materials for upholstery not only allow for water to drain off but assist cushions in draining three times faster than traditional foam.’

Meanwhile, Kettal (marketed by Casarredo) presents Glaze, a new and exclusive paint finish, which replicates the aesthetic qualities and feeling of warmth offered by ceramic, but is adapted for the outdoors. As a result of advanced technical properties, Glaze also delivers the same level of durability and quality provided by aluminium coatings. Designed by Doshi Levien, this new finish is for aluminium tabletops and is available in eight colours.

Flexform’s Vulcano sofa, designed by Antonio Citterio, has a base made of marine plywood, while the armrests and backrest structures are in austenitic stainless steel 316, a superalloy that ensures superior performance in outdoor settings. The woven parts are in polypropylene fibre and come in an array of colours. To ensure optimal outdoor performance, all cushions are encased in a special lining material made of breathable water-repellent fabric (in a wide range of options), which also guarantees excellent resistance to the effects of moisture, sun, chlorine and salt water.

So the choices are many and varied and some pieces are virtually weatherproof thanks to such new materials and technologies, which are specifically resistant even to climates as extreme as those in the South African highveld.

One such is synthetic wicker in which the appeal of natural Abaca palm fronds has been supplemented with very considerable brawn. Quality all-weather synthetic wicker furniture is impervious to the ravages of both climate and regular daily use. It will neither fade in the sun nor become brittle and crack after being subject to moisture in cold weather; it requires no maintenance and doesn’t absorb stains.

Mia Delport is a convert: ‘All-weather wicker furniture offers longevity that’s quite phenomenal and it’s available in a variety of finishes and weaves to suit a particular style. And fully upholstered outdoor furniture is a big trend. It features aluminium frames and quick-dry foam cushions in the renowned Sunbrella fabric, which can be exposed to both rain and UV rays. Cushions don’t need to be removed and can dry completely in 30 min.’

Polyethylene (PE) is used for the best synthetic wicker fibre. Commonly called sling, it’s available in a variety of weaves, weights and colours. Brand name fibres such as Ecolene®, Rehau® and Viro® offer a guarantee of top-quality synthetic wicker or rattan webbing that’s also eco-friendly. This high-end upholstery webbing can resist fading and cracking for decades when combined with quality outdoor rated fabrics such as Sunbrella. Furniture made with these synthetic fibres will retain its colour and texture virtually indefinitely.

Mixing indoor and outdoor furniture is a trend that began developing in 2017 / ’18 and which has remained a major factor in terrace / deck / patio furniture design ongoing. The notion of blurring the line between indoor and outdoor isn’t a new or foreign concept. In ancient Greece and Rome, many middle and upper-class families enjoyed houses with indoor / outdoor courtyards, pools and gardens.

Material World

Mixing materials for these areas is another trend that began to grow in popularity in 2018 and that has maintained traction in 2019. This can involve hardwoods like teak and wicker in synch with cast iron and aluminium pieces, which contribute a unique individuality, co-existing to form a very original signature.

With mixed materials, a golden rule is to select the best design available because creating a successful result is not that simple. Examples include rattan with a cast aluminium frame and cast iron, also with synthetic all-weather weaves.

Why is this trend becoming more popular? Mixing materials is a way of including high-quality pieces that create that pleasing originality. It’s an imaginative alternative to white or dark green plastic outdoor furniture that might be inexpensive and practical, but is not overly comfortable. Instead of such conformity, there are now selections of outdoor pieces that have inherited the innate characteristics of their well designed architecturally advanced interior peers.

Avoid steel. When exposed to the elements steel will rust eventually, even if powder coated because the coating will inevitably become worn with use. Not only is rust ugly but as steel rusts, it expands and weakens leading to fractured frames. Rather choose aluminium, which will oxidise over time when exposed to the elements, but this is not nearly as unsightly as rust on iron or steel. Furthermore, aluminium doesn’t expand and weaken, so its longevity is improved.

Today’s high-end outdoor furniture is built to be extremely durable, as well as being on-trend style-wise. Such attributes translate into contemporary pieces typically manufactured using resilient materials that are designed to withstand extreme conditions. More importantly, frames are often reinforced with strengthened metals that ensure long life. And further, outdoor upholstery fabrics repel spills and stains, are easy to clean and often machine-washable.

Another plus is that well designed and manufactured crossover and outdoor furniture will outlast traditional interior pieces that may break or sag over time. So yes, they can be used within the interior, especially in high traffic indoor / outdoor areas.

Global Overview

Based on a survey conducted in the US and Japan, the following trends will likely burgeon in 2019 / ‘20; this on a global basis.

Next year, those living in denser urban areas are expected to prefer smaller homes with a more limited number of rooms, and formal living rooms will be less evident in new contemporary builds and apartments. The living area is expected to become increasingly multifunctional and, where possible, will directly access the exterior. Furniture here will fulfill a crossover role, where practical climate-wise and dependent on the season. In the US, 91 percent of all new homes now include an outdoor living area.

Furniture for patios, terraces and designs for the outdoor will be conceived and manufactured with an overarching rationale for minimal maintenance, while still fulfilling their primary maxim of form following function.

In fact, furniture design continues to evolve with human lifestyle and changing interior / exterior space usage, which will affect its conception within the relevant timeframe. Space is becoming more tangible and valuable, yet with residential use, that’s not as rigidly delineated as previously, creating spaces that are correspondingly leaner. Fewer persons via smaller occupancy will reduce the amount of furniture within the home, but should provide added spatial benefit for crossover areas.

So, in addition to the number of furniture pieces, the very concept of a minimalist, modern residence will directly affect the design of the furniture selected. Multifunctional, modular, smaller designs will be up there increasingly, as will easily movable tables and stools. The same rationale applies to outdoor / crossover furniture, which is predicted to shift towards designs that are more linear, modular and multifunctional. This in accordance with the character of an urban lifestyle that is both increasingly dynamic and practical.

What’s trending sun control-wise in crossover and outdoor areas?

Karina Palmer of American Shutters on the advantages of adjustable shutters: ‘They work particularly well to enclose a covered deck or patio area because they address both the practicalities of sun control and the aesthetics of the scheme. Two key advantages are the adjustability of the louvres and the ease of being able to draw back the shutters and open up the area completely. With the shutters closed, adjustable louvres offer choice as to privacy, vistas, plus sun and shade control; and to maximise access and views, the shutters can simply be pushed back. Other benefits include security, insulation and energy efficiency for sustainable living. Shutters tick all the boxes.’

The larger glazed spans – typical of contemporary architecture – pose further questions. Yvonne Tobien of Luxaflex® has an answer: ‘Luxaflex® Ultimate Screen is a motorised external sunscreen that offers a high-performance solution for both heat and light control. The system is based on a fully enclosed headbox or cassette, side guide profiles and screen fabric with welded zippers. These keep the fabric and bottom rail stable inside the guide profiles and ensure that the product remains functional, despite wind loads of up to 49km/h. It’s a system that can help establish the aesthetic appeal of any building whether residential or corporate and is custom-made to specification. Further, recent advances in textile development have greatly increased the quality of the high-performance external fabrics used.

‘Sun or wind / sun sensors can be linked to the external sunscreen for customised control options. Ultimate Screen is designed to improve indoor environmental quality and conserve energy. It can contribute towards built environments that are comfortable, healthy, productive and sustainable, while minimising environmental impact and meeting the highest standards.’

Adjustable outdoor shade reflects the latest technology and materials for high-end umbrellas.

Fritz Walter of globally renowned designer / manufacturer Woodline comments: ‘Umbrellas play an important part with the second lounge being outdoors. Trends are moving away from the traditional centre pole umbrella as more flexible shade is required. Hence our development of the Woodline Papillon, Sky, Pavone, Pendulum and Picollo ranges with poles located on the side allowing for uninterrupted views. With Pavone, tilting and rotational functions allow the canopy to follow the sun so maximising the shade. Papillon and Sky offer the feeling of shade without any obstruction, even when 14 people are seated around a table; yet can still provide a sheltered atmosphere with side and end walls.

‘Today, many umbrellas are manufactured using stainless steel or aluminium structures for low maintenance, but nothing beats the traditional wooden structure for natural beauty and quality. Fabrics have become a very important part of the shade industry and the world’s best producers offer collections with a guarantee of up to five years against fading along with the highest UV filters employed over a large range of colours, patterns and stripes. Fabrics vary in being specifically designed for various weather conditions, from north European rain to tropical climates where sun protection is paramount.

‘Most of our models use marine grade stainless steel fittings while our Storm range is constructed of pure stainless steel to withstand strong winds of over 100km/h and can hold up in any harsh environment.’

Woodline Shade Solutions focus on the best possible solution for any shading requirement. Various options mean easy adaptation to a specific outdoor area and its location in relation to its north-facing trajectory and the angles of sun movement. Certain umbrellas can be wall-mounted or added directly to the exit of a room for immediate shade.

The Palette

What colours will be most apparent for the 2019 / ‘20 summer season in South Africa? Likely some importers and local designer / manufacturers will follow those of the European and US seasons where research indicates a trend towards charcoals and grey in various tones, patterns and weaves. These being matched to natural wood and grey patina finishes such as oxidised timbers and driftwood effects.

Darren Postan of Casarredo (importers of Kettal) is in synch: ‘Garden and Forest, Sky and Water, Earth and Stone. The textures and colours of their Terrain outdoor fabrics reflect the subtle mélange of tones found in different natural environments. They become one with the outdoor landscape of their setting and are sensual, iridescent and textured, plus each is created with a mix of colours and has a surprising softness associated with indoor fabrics. There is a spectrum of 34 colours conceived to work with a diverse range of outdoor materials such as marble, stone and wood, plus coated metals and meshes’.

Roche Bobois sees key materials that include lacquered metal, tempered glass and dry feel foam offering design aesthetics in no way compromised in functionality.

Mira Sydow: ‘Unique laser cut-out designs on thermo-formed alto-glass and steel is a trend that has made waves, paying homage to tree trunks and branches. Cool colours, notably green and blue, are at the forefront this season with bold prints, bright colours and textured fabric being a seasonal go-to. Pared-down neutral finishes on the structure in white, grey and black create the perfect balance for an understated and elegant finish.’

Flexform’s outdoor colour palette was created around shades of beige and grey with nuances of burgundy and various tones of green.

Colours in the outdoor palette in the USA include distilled off-white, khaki and jute brown, infused with gold, grey / blue-violet and jade green. Finishes for frames could appear cloudlike, layered and visually interesting, streaked with metallic threads against medium-toned wood grain, imitating and engineering nature. Finishes are tactile and speculative, from highly lustrous to innate, unvarnished surfaces. Blue is bright and saturated, together with a true yellow set against taupe, forest green and deep teal, highlighted by pure white and soft petal pink.

In solids, sharper colours: terracotta, teal and mint green, lemon yellow and deep blue will offer a contrast to the ever-popular ivories and greys. In addition, metallic tones such as pearl, gold and copper can add occasional glamour and focus.

The choices for the 2019 / ‘20 spring / summer season in South Africa are vast.

They include: weather-tolerant hardwoods, rattan and cane, polyurethane and other plastics, light alloys, wrought-iron, cast aluminium and combinations of these. R&D in upholstery fabrics has spawned water-resistant, impermeable fabrics, non-fade acrylic canvases and indestructible plastic webbings in simulated wicker and rattan weaves that have replaced the natural fibres they replicate. Add to a successful indoor / outdoor lifestyle storyboard: screens, umbrellas, planters and pots, grills / barbecues, ceiling fans and very vital shutters and blinds.

So at this southern tip of Africa, terraces, patios and pool decks will enjoy regular use as multifunctional areas that engender and increase recreational lifestyle opportunities. This through the sympathetic enlargement of reception space in the more compact living machines that are today’s homes. Necessary spatial flow and interior / exterior access is a prerequisite and if this is achieved harmoniously, these vital multi-use spaces add value to virtually any property – be it townhouse
or mansion.

cover image: Ligne Roset

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