Imagining and designing outdoor living
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Imagining and designing outdoor living

A look at the latest outdoor furniture ideas on show at Salone and Fuorisalone 2022

Imagining and designing outdoor living
By Editorial Staff -

There’s an increasing shift towards outdoor living in our daily lives, and manufacturers of outdoor furniture know it. These firms have the important role of helping to rewrite how we use public and private, urban and rural spaces. For this reason, many of the concepts and projects on show at Milano Design Week are all about living life to the full in nature, regardless of the moment of the day or activity.



KE, Sunlight Courtesy of KE

Transparent on all sides, Sunlight is a pergola featured in Milan by KE. It’s a kind of winter garden with as good as all visual obstructions removed. Either fastened to a wall or free-standing, it’s a new room for the house that’s outside the house. The way it reaches out and opens up to nature makes it the heart of an immersive experience. The key innovation of the pergola is its 1/2” laminated glass roof, transparent or opaque, with stepped aluminum framing for unobstructed views.

But while the pergola is all about opening up to nature, vertical blinds and sunshading systems are also available for privacy and protection. The sunshading for the roof fully retracts, packing away into its unobtrusive casing. Comprising dimmable LED strips integrated into the roof crosspieces, the lighting system is equally unobtrusive and makes it possible use the pergola at any time.



Crest, Unopiù Courtesy of Unopiù

Designed for a host of different activities, CREST The Outdoor Landscape System combines the contours of nature and comfort for an experience that’s all about wellbeing. Featured by Unopiù at Milano Design Week, the collection is the result of the firm’s collaboration with Stefano Boeri Interiors, a multidisciplinary studio founded by architects Stefano Boeri and Giorgio Donà. Difficult to describe in just a word, this is a modular and versatile outdoor living system made up of seats, chaise longues, tables, and washbasins that establish a continuity with one other so that each element naturally flows into the next. It’s also highly versatile, equally suitable for meals, work, and play.

At the heart of the project is an interweaving of the three fundamentals for outdoor spaces: namely, fabrics, structural materials (gaboon wood and stainless steel), and weather resistance.

Gaboon (a wood that’s highly water resistant and strong), brushed stainless steel, and fabric give the pergola both its personality and a tactile dimension. Warm, intense, and extremely durable, the unique characteristics of gaboon combine with the attractiveness and strength of stainless steel and the comfort of cushions made with waterproof fabrics.

“Nowadays, we’re doing more things more often in outdoor spaces,” say Stefano Boeri and Giorgio Donà. “When we were asked to design this furniture, we imagined a modular system for rest, play, eating, living, and conversation – in other words, for all the activities that we’re now performing more frequently than ever outside of our homes and offices.”



Calipso, Ethimo

Bringing together nature, harmony, and innovation, Ethimo, an Italian company specializing in high-end outdoor furniture, presented a selection of new products with designs inspired by the Mediterranean. The firm collaborated with designer Ilaria Marelli on its Calipso collection. Comprising three different seating modules with matching accessories, it offers a new way of enjoying outdoor living that’s both flexible and customizable, making it ideal for the residential, contract, and hospitality markets.

Each seating module (47 1/4 x 47 1/4”, 71 x 47 1/4”, and 94 1/2 x 47 1/4”) comprises a base made of natural teak slats combined with an aluminum structure. Inconspicuous and lightweight, the structure creates a feeling that the furniture is floating in mid-air. The cushions aren’t attached to the base so they can be moved as needed, adding to the personalization options. The back cushions are also free. To ensure that they properly support the body, their padding uses a combination of different rubber densities.

Calipso is available in Melange White and Light Blue. Besides the chairs, the range includes coffee tables with aluminum frames and oval (55 x 26”) and round (20 1/2”) tops. The table tops are Ice White or Emperador Extra Brown ceramic stone. The round version is also available with a glazed lava stone top.

“I imagined Calipso as a versatile design with essential, elegant lines,” says Ilaria Marelli. “Modular at heart, it’s a system for creating numerous flexible, reconfigurable solutions in a wide variety of outdoor settings. These range from the simplest arrangements, such as a sofa or peninsula, to configurations for the contract market with potentially endless possibilities in terms of both size and layout. The really special thing about the concept is that all the elements resting on the oversize teak base are free floating, so they can be moved according to different tastes and desires, offering the possibility of having a free space next to the seating to be used as a table top or to be completed with one of the accessories.”

The product of Ethimo’s ongoing collaboration with Patrick Norguet, the Swing collection has a dual soul, with its metal structure wrapped around teak slats. The collection has now grown with a new, generously proportioned garden daybed. With a design that’s both traditional and modern, the daybed features the brand’s hallmark interplay of natural and bleached teak, but with the addition of a new stainless steel structure, available in Sepia Black and Warmwhite. The daybed has sunshading on the sides and roof, creating a space that’s private, quiet, and protected from the sun. Besides suggesting solidity and robustness, the new design conveys a sense of softness and a cocoon effect. It’s designed for swimming pools and beaches where exclusive looks matter.

Reflecting the firm’s aim to make evolution and research hallmarks of its brand identity, Ethimo has also released the Bold collection of tables. Inspired by megalithic architecture, the collection has a sculptural appearance. Understated and with soft lines, the designs also convey a feeling of lightness, created by their legs combined with sandblasted stone and concrete. Available in rectangular and triangular versions, both with rounded corners (the triangular version looks a little like a plectrum), the tabletops are plain and with a thin profile. With their shaded ivory tones, they readily combine with different types of seats to create endless evolutions.

A personal interpretation of teak by Ethimo and Marc Sadler resulted in two complementary outdoor lamps, one a table lamp and the other for the floor. Named Gaia and Tetris respectively, they add a touch of warmth to both domestic and hospitality spaces. The base and support of the Gaia lamp are natural teak, while the lampshade is fabric, available in shades of White, Clay, Rust, Silver, Pink, Teal, Night, Billiards, and Lacquer. The light source, incorporated into a polycarbonate diffuser, is magnetized, making it possible to fit it to the extensive range of different colored lampshades. The lamp charges by USB cable with a special magnetic connector. The luminaire has touch control and a dimmable light. The unusual feature of Tetris is that it transforms into a coffee table, its teak Tetriminos fitting together just like in Tetris, with the gaps between them filtering the light, generated by a rechargeable LED lamp hidden inside.



Stack e Combo, Nardi

Nardi’s mission is to design for people’s lives. Specialized in the design and manufacture of quality outdoor resin furniture, the firm was at Milano Design Week with two new products: Stack and Combo, and Net Lounge.

Designed by Raffaello Galiotto, Stack and Combo are good examples of sustainability combined with contemporaneity. Both made using 100% recycled and recyclable plastic, they’re part of the company’s Regeneration project, which involves the use of regenerated plastic for the production of outdoor furniture. Stack stools have a spiral design that allows them to be stacked one on top of the other. “The spiral design,” says Raffaello Galiotto, “isn’t just a whim of the designer but an attempt to find a shape that can optimize stackability, breaking away from the standard lines.” Light and easy to move, it’s available in two versions with different seat heights: Mini and Maxi. The design of the Combo table creates an interplay of straight lines and circles. With the addition of an extender, it transforms into a high table. The color and material are the result of the company’s research into giving regenerated plastic a pleasant appearance that’s in harmony with the outdoors.

Made of fiberglass and polypropylene, Net Lounge is an outdoor armchair that, like the previous collection, is fully recyclable. The minimalist design of this generous and deep chair, again designed by Raffaello Galiotto, was inspired by the waves of the sea, resulting in its low-slung looks and an inclined backrest for the ergonomic distribution of body weight. Featuring a continuous pattern of perforated squares, the matte shell is light and breathable. It’s also slightly rounded and pleasant to the touch.



Connect, Pratic Courtesy of Pratic

Highly transparent so that they integrate into their surroundings almost to the point of disappearing, the new Pratic pergolas and awnings are designed to reflect and enhance their natural setting. With its walls transparent or iridescent, depending on the time of day, Connect is a mirrored pergola. However, the view is only from inside to outside, not vice versa, which means they’re completely private. This is made possible using Spy Glass technology, which prevents seeing in from outside. Conversely, the view from the inside is obstacle free.

Interfacing with home automation devices, Connect is also the first bioclimatic pergola, equipped with a roof with aluminum blades that can be adjusted for lighting, heat, and ventilation. Besides operating with an app, the blades can be adjusted by weather sensors or voice command, letting users create customized scenarios and ecosystems. Both in terms of size and accessories, Connect is fully customizable.

T-Loop, on the other hand, is the first recessed blind that’s fully integrated into the structure of the window. This means that parts such as headboxes, tracks, and electrical components are all built into the wall. Again, automation and customization are two features of the product, with the headbox available in over 30 colors and with dimmable white LED strips. Fitted to the exterior of the blind, the LED strips offer unprecedented privacy at night. With the blind lowered, the LEDs prevent anyone from seeing in, even when the inside lights are on.

Other new products on show in Milan included the Opera pergola and the T-Hide extendable arm awning.



Salinas, Talenti Courtesy of Talenti

In a booth designed by Ludovico + Roberto Palomba, Talenti presented a preview of its Salinas collection by the same designers; Allure, designed by Christophe Pillet; and Leaf Wood, the work of Marco Acerbis. A coming together of hi-tech and eco-sustainability, the products are just some of the new lines for 2022.

Comprising a sofa and seats with a painted aluminum structure, rope backrests, and generous padding, the Salinas collection draws its inspiration from the homonymous natural region of Ibiza. “A landscape where the land used for harvesting salt overlooks pristine beaches,” say designers Ludovica and Roberto Palomba. “Where minimalist, contemporary homes immersed in nature overlook a panorama in which we imagined life revolving around a large swimming pool. Sofas and armchairs in which the textile component is dominant. Together with flat rope and elegant metallic details at the ends of the backrests, they have an elegant and timeless charm. With this project, we wanted to bring the typical elegance of indoor spaces to the outdoors and therefore break down the separation between the two by establishing a continuity.”

Both casual and elegant, the Allure sofa series designed by Christophe Pillet is distinguished by the modular effect created by its delicate aluminum feet, which expand horizontally to a solid accoya wood frame. Using interchangeable cushions of different sizes, the base of the sofa changes its appearance, with shelves and integrated tables and surfaces also available.

Leaf, designed by Marco Acerbis, is the last seating collection Talenti previewed in Milan. Inspired by the lightness of petals, it features clean, modular proportions, soft cushions, and minimal lines. Recycled from PET bottles and recyclable itself, its finish is 100% sustainable and a defining feature. The use of recycled polyester, which requires only a few steps to process, means considerable energy and water savings and a net reduction of carbon emissions.

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