Tastes and trends in the patio furnitureindustry are difficult to pin down. They seem to change with every warm season, and perhaps now more than ever, with technology and environmental consciousness becoming pivotal to the design and use of any and all outdoor furnishings.
The 2011 Outdoor Furniture Market, which took place in Chicago, was fairly eye-opening in that regard.
This year, the trends and predictions we are making have little to do with aesthetics. Outdoor furniture is not just about “the look” anymore, but rather, the deep mechanics and attributes – “the how” and “the why” – that make contemporary design what it is.
For example, major outdoor furniture manufacturer Tropitone announced their new line of chairs, dubbed “URComfort.” What makes these chairs fascinating is not their appearance, which is itself fairly typical for a piece of patio furniture. Rather, the overall design of the chair is what makes it compelling: taking a cue from business-class airline seating, the URComfort allows for articulated movement within the seat and backrest of the chair based on a series of carefully designed ergonomic fulcrums, or “pinch points.” So what does this mean, in English? Basically, the chair adapts to your body. And not just in an “it makes an impression of your butt” sort of way: when your body shifts, the chair shifts right along with you and essentially recalibrates its fulcrums and density distribution to optimize your comfort.
Sunbrella fabrics have been increasingly popular over the last few years, and that trend is well-set to continue into the new year. Sunbrella manufactures a beautiful product (just look at our patio furniture outfitted with high quality Sunbrella cushions!) but, more importantly, they make a product that serves an invaluable purpose. Unlike most cushions, Sunbrella fabrics offer superior water repellency, fade-resistance, and weather-resistance. And so they should: Sunbrella has also made a name for themselves producing boat enclosures and sail covers for speedboats and other maritime vessels. Sunbrella also has the distinction of being one of the most eco-friendly businesses in the industry, operating efficient and waste-reductive plants as well as a “Recycle My Sunbrella” program to reduce post-consumer waste.
Speaking of environmentally friendly furniture, that seems to be the most compelling and rising trend in patio furniture for the upcoming years. Interest in green furniture has been steadily rising for the past few years and this progress shows no sign of stopping. Just take a look at this data, pulled from Google Search Insights:
As you can see, while traditional wood-centric search terms are falling out of favor, user behaviors and online searches for “reclaimed wood furniture” and related terms are on the rise.
The environment will continue to be a major issue we face as a global society, and our consumer trends will almost certainly continue to support that. That’s why it’s so important for those of us in the furniture industry to start developing new ways to produce and reduce the costs of safe, environmentally friendly outdoor furniture.
So, there you have it. Much like 2011, outdoor furniture design trends in 2012 will focus heavily on functional factors like comfort and manufacturing, and will shine a lot less emphasis on developing furniture that “looks” different. Expect much of the same aesthetically when summer rolls around, but expect to be blown away by the sheer comfort and utility of these new patio sets! 2012 will be a year of great change… and hopefully, these good design trends will continue on indefinitely!