Outdoor furniture was out in force at the recent Maison& Object and IMM Cologne furniture fairs, as brands responded to a big increase in customer demand. We pick out 10 of the best new designs, including rugs, shelving and a kitchen.
The two fairs saw many established brands launch outdoor furniture collections for the first time, like contemporary Danish brand Muuto, which unveiled the Linear table and bench.
"Venturing into the outdoor furniture category is something that we've been wanting to do for a long time," explained design director Christian Grosen. "The demand has definitely been there."
Response "very positive" to outdoor shelves
It's not only simple tables and seating on offer – many brands are offering furnishings not traditionally found in the garden. One example is heritage brand String, which has adapted its famous shelving system for the outdoors.
"We started to get a lot of requests for bigger shelves that could be used outdoors and we realised that, with some adjustments, the metal range would work perfectly," said Peter Erlandsson, co-owner of String Furniture. "The response was very positive when we launched at IMM."
Rugs "even more important" outdoors
New outdoor textiles are also being developed making it easier than ever to bring soft furnishings into the garden.
According to Nani Marquina, founder of the eponymous rug company, the introduction of textiles has been transformative in garden design.
"As you know, rugs define a room and create different environments while adding warmth and comfort. Thus it's even more important in outdoor environments, where there's an absence of walls and delineated spots," she said.
Here are 10 of the most impressive new designs, picked by editor Amy Frearson:
String Outdoor by Anna von Schewen and Björn Dahlström
The String shelving system is one of the most famous Scandinavian design products of the last century. But now, for the first time in 70 years, Nisse and Kajsa Strinning's modular design is available for the garden as well as the home.
Debuted at IMM Cologne, String Outdoor comes with newly developed shelves in aluzinc – a steel coated with aluminium-zinc – making the product resistant to moisture and rust. Meanwhile the floor panels are hot-dip galvanised to prevent corrosion.
"The material we use requires no additional surface treatment. Should rusting occur, the material has the ability to mend itself and stop the rust from spreading," said String Furniture CEO Jonas Wetterlöf.
Outdoor by Nanimarquina
The first outdoor rug collection from Spanish brand Nanimarquina is designed to "transfer the warmth of interior spaces to outdoors".
Unveiled at Maison&Objet, the collection includes some of the brand's successful indoor designs, like the colour-graduated Shade Palette and Tres Texture ranges. It also features a new design by the brand's eponymous designer Nani Marquina, called Oaxaca, which combines floral and chequered patterns. All of the rugs are made from PET plastic, although they don't look like it.
"We were surprised that PET offered similar aesthetic characteristics to wool, as well as visual and tactile similarities," said Marquina. "PET has the same behaviour as wool in terms of fire resistance, but it provides great water and UV resistance."
Linear by Thomas Bentzen for Muuto
Danish brand Muuto has moved into outdoor furniture with a table and chair set by Copenhagen-based designer Thomas Bentzen, unveiled for the first time at IMM Cologne.
Based on the traditional picnic bench, the Linear collection is made from powder-coated steel, and characterised by clean lines and folded edges. The table top is hot-dip galvanised to make it weather-resistant. It is available in black, cream, brown and green shades.
"The Linear Steel Series has been very much about delving into every singular detail that makes up the design while using the simple lines of Scandinavian design as a guiding principle, to create something that would remain relevant for years to come," explained Muuto design director Christian Grosen.
Danish textile brand Kvadrat supplies fabrics to many of the world's leading furniture companies, so the launch of its inaugural outdoor textile collection could pave the way for even more designs to be adapted for outdoors.
Developed with Copenhagen-based designer Karina Nielsen Rios, the new Patio fabrics are made with three colours of a highly durable flame-retardant polyester yarn called Trevira CS. They are suitable for all outdoor spaces, even spaces with high-humidity and chlorine like spas and pools.
"In addition to its technical features, it also stands out for a soft touch compared to other outdoor fabrics and offers exceptional colour vibrancy," said Kvadrat.
Indoor-Outdoor by Bodil Kjær, reissued by Carl Hansen & Son
As well as new designs, outdoor furniture models of the past are also being launched. Among the brands doing so is Carl Hansen & Son, which recently added designs by Danish architect Bodil Kjær to its collection.
The Indoor-Outdoor collection is made from warm-toned teak, able to withstand changing weather conditions.
"Teak has a warm reddish-brown colour and, due to its natural oils, is highly durable," said Carl Hansen & Son CEO Knud Erik Hansen. "The wood requires minimal maintenance and takes on a more beautiful colour over time, if you choose not to treat it with oil."
The range was first unveiled in Milan last year, but is now available in stores.
Kettal Outdoor Kitchen
Outdoor furniture brand Kettal has added an outdoor kitchen to its collection, taking cooking al fresco to the next level.
Presented at IMM Cologne, the kitchen is made from aluminium with optional teak cabinet doors. It comes with a sink and a hob, and also provides space for a wine cooler or fridge. A matching trolley can be added, providing transport and additional storage.
Vimini by Patricia Urquiola for Kettal
Kettal's collection also includes a range of wicker furniture designed by Patricia Urquiola.
Launched in Milan last year, the Vimini collection is based on the classic Basket Chair designed by Nanna Ditzel in the 1950s. It combines a curving wicker basket with large colourful cushions and wooden legs.
"I fancied something really traditional, something a bit modernist, relaxed in the way we treated the fibre," said Urquiola. "And the Vimini, the chair with its classic braiding and baskets, is captivating."
Liz by Ludovica Serafini and Roberto Palomba for Expormim
It comprises a tubular metal frame, with fabric stretched over it, plus a fully upholstered cushion and backrest.
"Liz is a project inspired by the flair of the 1950s," said the designers. "The elastic fabric stretching along the metallic tubular structure marks lines and transparencies, giving rise to a play of graphics and lightness that make you feel the soft embrace of Liz."
10th Mazzo di Fiori floor light by Massimo Castagna for Exteta
Italian architect Massimo Castagna has created an entire collection for outdoor brand Exteta, but one of the highlights is this outdoor floor lamp.
Handmade in burnished brass, each light comprises six stems topped with globes of polycarbonate plastic.
Globe Planters by AYTM
Danish brand AYTM has made its bestselling indoor products available for outdoors. The Globe Planters consist of a painted stainless-steel bowl perched on a golden ring base.
Debuted at Maison&Objet, the planters come in a wide variety of sizes and colours, making them suitable for any garden.