In South Africa, terraces, patios and pool decks are used regularly for eight months of the year. These are functioning areas that increase reception and recreational possibilities, spatial flow and interior / exterior interest. They add value to a property and so require as much consideration as the interiors they adjoin.

‘Imagine a garden or terrace as a room in which the ceiling has been replaced by sky, the walls by trees and the carpet by grass. All that’s left are a few pieces of furniture, including an iconic, timeless, incredibly comfortable couch.’ – Philippe Starck

Cover image: TrueDesign

In 2018 South Africa crossover furniture is high on the design / decoration agenda. In this annual Habitat FOCUS feature we showcase what’s trending for spring / summer. Experts in this field provide informed comment.

So what characterises 2018 R&D for such pieces – and its advantages? Tracey-Lee Gradidge of Sandton-based Casarredo says: ‘Recent developments in technology have resulted in furniture made to last, such as contract specification frames with sun-resistant as well as waterproof fabric developments, as seen with our range out of Spain – Kettal. This European manufacturer has worked tirelessly to ensure that they do their bit for the environment as it’s becoming ever more important to be eco-considerate.’

‘The advantage of research and development is that we have more choice than before as manufacturers are pushing the boundaries of the materials’ ability to perform,’ agrees Bloc Outdoor’s Jacques Drake.

In best case scenarios the level of integration, with the design and decoration storyboard inside, manifests as a synergising ambiance that also involves the functionality of the chosen pieces and systems. All this contributes to the end result: to achieve an appealing outdoor living space in the suburbs of SA’s major towns and cities, where we now spend more time, in more secure environments.

Cecil Kagan of local manufacturer Xenia adds: ‘Due to the growing trend to use interior style furniture outdoors, we’ve had to be more innovative in the design and construction of these pieces in order to make them suitable for exterior conditions. There’s a lot more detailing and other elements that we now have to provide for: direct sunlight, rain / moisture, rust, dust and corrosion; even the smallest details, such as where water may collect, and the negative effects of suntan lotion. So, we’ve had to collaborate with local suppliers and fabric weavers to select fabrics that have been proofed for all of the above factors.

‘Creativity is what has driven designers and manufacturers towards the reinvention of patio and garden furniture as we knew it, and R&D in the durability and quality of materials is key. Innovations such as: Bleach Cleanable, Mildew resistant and Breathable Comfort are just a few examples,’ so says Mia Delport of Patio Warehouse.

‘Achieving the fine balance between pure function, aesthetics and comfort is critical,’ says Aldon McLeod of TrueDesign who import Cassina. ‘It’s the major luxury, but has to look pleasing; great design carries all these qualities.’

We asked contributors how best to design outdoor contemporary living spaces. What should be considered in advance?

‘First decide how the outdoor space is to be used – i.e. to dine al fresco, create a seating area for conversation – or both. Take note of the natural elements specific to the area, such as the sun, and remember that seasons change so consideration as to when the area is used may differ. Think about comfort, but also protection of the chosen pieces as these are key to the enjoyment of the environment being created. Add an umbrella or retractable awning to outdoor spaces that have no natural protection from the sun; and additional lighting to extend the use after dark. While it’s great to make something beautiful and stylish, comfort and functionality are also key to any successful indoor / outdoor space,’ says Amy Rochester of Sunbrella.

Colour & Form

Black and brown based finishes for chair and sofa frames remain popular as they pair well with various upholstery and cushion colours; but for 2018 / ’19 summer we’ll see more white, ivory, grey and a few bronze finishes. Consumers are looking to bring a light, relaxed country or coastal feel to their outdoor spaces and open rattan weaves in taupe and straw tones will illustrate this. Fun, braided trimmings might introduce the unexpected, and for table tops wood visual ceramic tiles will fit the bill.

What of the top designer collections? A spokesman for Il Lusso importers of B&B Italia says: ‘The B&B Italia Outdoor collection was launched successfully in 2007 and after more than 10 years, the goal remains the same: to bring to the outdoors all the qualities that have distinguished B&B Italia indoor products; such as research, technological innovation, ergonomics, creativity, quality, and comfort.

‘Through collaboration with prestigious international designers – Antonio Citterio, Patricia Urquiola, Naoto Fukasawa, Doshi Levien, Barber & Osgerby – the collection has expanded over the years and today includes a wide range of seating systems: sofas, daybeds, armchairs, tables, chairs, and accessories. The result is a curated collection of very distinctive pieces, from essential to more decorative design, all marked by high quality and material excellence. These products are among the most sought-after in the outdoor industry and are chosen for the most prestigious projects, both in the residential and contract sectors globally.’

Lastly, let’s consider the functional accessories for patios, terraces and courtyards: added living areas that may require blinds and shutters.

Karina Palmer of American Shutters has advice: ‘As South Africans we definitely embrace the outdoors, so it makes good sense to create an adaptable area that can be open on warm evenings or closed to the elements. By adding exterior shutters to a covered outdoor patio, it’s easy and affordable to transform an outdoor area into a practical extension of usable interior living space.

‘Besides the obvious advantage of weather protection, lockable exterior shutters will provide the added benefit of security, which adds both appeal and value. There’s a choice of configurations from fixed to bi-fold or sliding, and consider weather protection only or both weather protection and security. Security shutters are custom-made from architectural grade aluminium for a corrosion-resistant finish and are available in three standard and a wide range of custom colours. Their improved design is difficult to tell apart from the ‘non-security’ timber shutters and they’re perfectly suited to both interior and exterior installations.’

Blinds of various types also fit the bill in crossover spaces. Luxaflex®’s Yvonne Tobien explains: ‘With spring imminent the days are getting longer and very soon the strong South African sun will be flooding interiors. With bright slatted window decorations it’s easy to turn any featureless rectangular window into an appealing yet necessary light filtering focus; the colour and texture options are wide and the solutions are both transforming and practical.’

Jonathan Purves of Roche Bobois outlines the ideal crossover / outdoor furniture area in 2018 / ‘19 SA: ‘Aim for a clean visual rhythm from the interior, towards the exterior layout being created with materials to accommodate the space accordingly, i.e. indoor / outdoor fabrics; this in larger open areas that encourage freedom of movement and better social habits. Plan-wise, ensure the correct positioning from / with the elements in order to consider sun (glare), rain and wind (protection).

‘Trends are towards low modular seating, which allows a casual lifestyle and optimum use for any size area. Accessorise with outdoor rugs that employ the brand new technology now available, they bring crossover settings to life and succeed in creating a professional touch.’

Happily, spring is here. This most favourite season for most of us heralds rebirth, new life and a fresh start. Sure pointers as to what is needed at the southern tip of Africa after a winter of considerable discontent. May summer – and its al fresco lifestyle – beckon us towards better times. Enjoy!

For the full article see Habitat #267 September / October 2018

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