LUXURYCULTURE.COM - The Great Outdoors


Designer furniture goes beyond the boundaries of four walls, as chic outdoor furniture cuts an impressive swath in the style stakes.

Kick back and relax in our round-up of al fresco furniture and luxurious loungers to languish over.

What could be better than spending long balmy days languishing by the pool without a care in the world? While global warming is serious cause for concern, it's difficult to deny the allure of milder climes and tropical temperatures. The change is not only affecting our environment, but our lifestyle. Mies van der Rohe famously extolled the virtues of open space, creating "skin and bones" architecture that allowed the outdoors to infiltrate the indoor living space. Subverting the architectural in-out theme, outdoor furniture now takes its cue from interiors. Sturdy iron frames equipped for constant exposure to the elements have been seconded to the scrap heap in favor of lightweight aluminum that retains its shine whatever the weather, while lightweight Hularo, used for Dedon's award-winning Leaf and Yin Yang outdoor icons, replaces traditional teak. "Nowadays people are going for simple, light things. I think it's the end of the all-wood look. Now we mix it with other materials like aluminum. The reason for this is that the furniture is used by all the family, so the furniture needs to be lighter and easier to move. New materials, such as resin, are also very interesting," explains landscape architect Xavier Loup of Loup & Co. Garden Design. Protective coatings such as Emu's innovative Emu Coat powder coating process not only ensure all-weather protection, allowing furniture to remain outdoors all year round, they also keep color. Summery shades such as orange, lilac and red are just some of the colors in Emu's current collections. The development of new textile technologies in weatherproof finishes allows greater comfort and flexibility than ever before.

In addition to aesthetic appeal, the added advantage to contemporary outdoor furniture is that it not only cuts a dashing figure by the pool, it looks good enough to live indoors out of season. "Outdoor furniture is no longer about a table and four chairs, it's more about living outdoors. We try to make our exteriors feel as much like an interior as possible," says Louise Cremers of Val-Eur. This year, Emu commissioned the leading lights in design—Christophe Pillet, Jean-Marie Massaud and Rodolfo Dordogni—to create stunning collections that may withstand the elements, but envious neighbors are another matter.

A long sweeping chaise or a cute, kitsch bistro set may be substantial for solitary down time, but for an effective entertaining space, social habits should be a key consideration when choosing. "Find the right furniture to fit the space. When you see it in a shop or on the net, it may look nice, but you have to be sure that it works well with the area. When we are creating an outdoor dining space for the client, we ask about their dining habits. The worst thing is that you have a terrace and dining set that can only accommodate four when they want to entertain maybe up to eight people. So you really have to think about the area, your needs and your lifestyle," advises Loup. "For most, it's also important that the outdoor space is very near to the home, particularly the kitchen and the dining room. Chairs and tables are also important; extendable glass tables are very nice. Outdoor furniture has definitely become more technical. There are more and more options available, and again, it's also more easy to use," he adds.

For poolside posing, decadent divans are the ultimate for sunshine siestas, while sculptural parasols such as Royal Botania's raptor-like Mantis protects from the damaging rays of the midday sun. Plump upholstery and oversized pillows bring comfort and style to your own personal Eden. Summertime, and the living is easier than ever.

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