BY DEBBIE TRAVIS AND BARBARA DINGLE
My travels take me to all corners of the world for many reasons. It could be a family holiday, a girls’ getaway, filming abroad or one of the most important aspects of my many jobs: being on the hunt for the latest trends.
I create a line of home products, from Christmas decorations to furniture to curtains. It’s imperative when you’re designing – be it fashion, home accessories or even cars – that you understand where trends are going and where they will be when your items actually get into the stores. We produce style guides, similar to gigantic scrap books, showing the colours, materials, textures and shapes that we see for the future. To fully understand that future, we visit the top trade shows around the world. When you pick up that fabulous patterned rug or stylish toothbrush holder, it may be just a quick trip to the store for you, but for me and my product developers it’s quite a journey.
I recently attended Salone del Mobile in Milan, the world’s largest furniture and design fair. It was like being in a giant candy store but, instead of sweets, they had on offer awe-inspiring furnishings and lighting for both indoors and out. I must have walked for miles through the red-carpeted aisles, checking out the best of the best in high-end furniture. After much note-taking, I present to you some of the most exciting products and ideas that Il Salone had to offer for outdoor living in grand style.
Luxurious Lounges When I came upon Dedon’s fantastic lounging nests, I was tempted to simply slip into the cocoon-like seat, close my eyes and dream the day away. Dedon, with a superbly imaginative design team in tow, has capitalized on their high-quality synthetic fibre production to offer an enticing style for relaxing outdoors. Swingrest and Nestrest lounges hang from trees or other supports by a system of ropes and are available in natural and chalk colours that blend seamlessly with their environment. Dedon’s Orbit fits into both backyard and beach life with a cloth canopy that’s easily flipped up to protect you from wind and sun. And new this year is Fedro, a legless seat. Ergonomically designed, it balances on two narrow skids, allowing you to rock back and forth using your legs and feet to control the movement. It’s lightweight, portable, stackable and comfortable on the beach or at the cottage. Contemporary, sleek and refined, B&B Italia’s exciting style is purely organic. Sold under the Maxalto brand, the Link table and Papilio chairs make a stunning combo for dining al fresco. For porch or poolside lounging, the high-back sofa and table from the Canasta ’13 series share an old-fashioned, airy design with a modern twist.
Bright Light Sources Today’s choice of indoor lighting is vast and immensely exciting. But outdoor lighting has its own flair, too. Torches, lanterns, and solar lights and tubes that snake around pathways artfully illuminate gardens and patios. For outdoor rooms with an indoor feeling, Bover has created Fora Mesa, a series of elegant weatherproof electric lamps that have a traditional indoor design. The light source is protected by a water-tight polyethylene globe. The shade is woven polyethylene, highly resistant to weathering while casting a pleasing, diffused light. Finishes and lampshades come in white, grey and brown. Foscarini’s Havana Mono series lights up pathways and garden features with a thoroughly modern look. The sleek polyethylene lamp is either mounted on a metal stand or suspended from a frame or beam.
Shady Style The familiar table umbrella has been raised to new heights with lightweight weatherproof fabric in whimsical designs by Tuuci. They all offer clean lines and cast shade in subtle shapes, providing protection from the sun in high style. If you’re lucky enough to own a yacht, Tuuci will set the tone perfectly.
Stone and Fire For steps and patios, the natural beauty of stone will always prevail. To add contrast or a softer feeling underfoot, brightly decorated outdoor carpets are now available in weaves and patterns that are cleverly designed to be both practical and stylish. Paola Lenti’s Zoe carpet features a series of spirals woven from Lenti’s signature synthetic materials Rope and Aquatech. You’ll discover a wide range of outdoor carpets (including Zoe) as well as a feast of other Italian products at Kiosk. Outdoor sources of warmth take on many faces, from the new bioethanol fireplaces to clay fire pits. Traditional brick and stone structures are modernized with natural gas inserts at Napoleon Fireplaces.
Seize the Season After the long winter we crave the summer months and the freedom to be outdoors as much as possible. You can extend this short season: fireplaces, lighting and furniture can help you enjoy your backyard Eden, lakeside retreat or beach house almost year ’round. See what you can find in-store or online that will enhance your outdoor living experience this summer. You don’t have to visit Italy to get the look, but if that’s an option, I heartily recommend it!