Outdoor Furniture Gets Sexy

The Great Outdoors: everyone wants a piece of it.

The outdoor furniture boom is producing design that is anything but garden variety. Just as Padma Lakshmi and the Naked Chef made cooking sexy again, shows like the DIY Network’s Indoors Out and HGTV’s The Outdoor Room are making outdoor dining, bathing, working and living downright pornographic.

Some stats to consider: outdoor furniture imports reached $2.5 billion in 2011, up 8.7% from 2010. Outside furniture sales are expected to boost 21.4% by 2016.

Earlier this month, the New York Times cited a survey by HGTV and Casual Living magazine in which 87 percent of the roughly 5,000 Americans interviewed said an outdoor room in their homes was “important or very important.” An additional 15 percent said they were in the throes of making one.

Also per the Times:

In the $80 billion home furnishings industry, the market for outdoor furniture is “not huge,” said Raymond Allegrezza, editor in chief of Furniture Today and editorial director of its sister publication Casual Living. “The total value is $3.8 billion, but if you’re a retailer in a challenged economy, a $3.8 billion slice of pie is nothing to sneeze at,” he said. “People are actively going after it.”

Husk Outdoor designed by Patricia Urquiola for B & B Italia.

OK Lounger from Kartell.

Blu Dot’s Hot Mesh stacking chairs.  

Functional art/bench by Jim Drain for Cumulus Studios. 

Also from Cumulus, Rirkrit Tiravanija’s outdoor chrome bench. 

It’s hot outside and not cooling down anytime soon, at least if you’re a recreational furniture purveyor like B & B Italia, or alfresco functional artwork producer Cumulus Studios.

We suspect that a post-housing crisis reality check has a lot to do with it. Instead of valuing our houses for their market value, there’s been a definite shift towards venerating them as homes. Trending, too, is mainstream homesteading – and a renewed back-to-nature movement, one that starts at your back door.

Whatever the reason, we’ll take it. We’ll also take Patricia Urquiola’s luxe-woven Ravel series. Armchair backyard travel inspired by field experimentation in the Philippines.

Image: Pfieffer Lab/Plank Collection

K. Emily Bond

K. Emily Bond is the Shelter Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in southern Spain, reporting on trends in art, design, sustainable living and lifestyle.