Philippe Starck creates outdoor furniture that folds in half to ward off rain

Philippe Starck outdoor furniture folds in half to ward off rain

A collection of outdoor seating, created by French designer Philippe Starck for Italian furniture brand B&B Italia, has foldable backrests that can cover the seat to protect it from the elements.

The cheekily titled Oh, it rains! series comprises a sofa and an armchair with simple, rectangular seats that are dwarfed by outsized, protruding backrests.

When these are folded down, it covers a surface area both longer and wider than the seat itself to keep out moisture.

Philippe Starck creates outdoor furniture that folds in half to ward off rain

"Today, everybody makes outdoor collections," Starck told Dezeen. "They put outdoor fabric on existing furniture and they think that makes it outdoor."

"I always thought there was something wrong with that. Imagine: you're in a beautiful hotel, enjoying a book by the pool, and suddenly it rains and dozens of waiters start panicking, picking up all the pillows and cushions," he added.

"So I developed a whole range of solutions with B&B Italia that allow you to intervene in a few simple steps when it starts to rain.”

Philippe Starck creates outdoor furniture that folds in half to ward off rain

The fold-down mechanism works via an exposed aluminium hinge – a mechanical joint created especially by Starck in collaboration with the company's research and development team.

Due to its size, the backrest also forms a kind of modular wall, that can be used to separate spaces and create privacy.

"Today, more and more people are looking for small salons and intimate spaces," said Starck.

"They don’t want to be seen or listened to, so I designed the backrest so it can easily be used as a protective flap when it starts to rain but also as a protection against prying eyes and ears."

Philippe Starck creates outdoor furniture that folds in half to ward off rain

Starck opted for a raffia-reminiscent texture to give the design beachside appeal while still being completely waterproof.

Other recent experiments by the designer include an AI-designed production chair and upholstery made from an apple-based vegan fabric.

Folding elements can make furniture more convenient. Designer Alexander Gendell made a chair that folds flat and hangs on the wall as a piece of artwork when not in use.