Inside and outside – the division no longer exists. Reflecting a desire to always be in touch with nature, people want to experience both in a completely new way, without distinctions between the two. Furniture designers have picked up on this trend and transformed it into new outdoor collections that seamlessly connect the indoors and the out. From seats to tables and lighting, their ideas were on show at the 2021 Supersalone del Mobile in Milan.
The vast plains of Serengeti epitomize a sense of mystery, the call of nature, and visions of massive animal migrations. They’re a place where the natural rhythms of life have remained unchanged and timeless. This priceless heritage was the source of inspiration for the new collection of the same name of outdoor furniture released by JANUS et Cie and created by designer and architect Philippe Starck. Previewed in Milan at the 2021 Salone del Mobile, the collection will be officially launched in February 2022. The furniture is intended to express the philosophies of both this luxury lifestyle brand and that of the eclectic designer himself, who’s made “democratic design” his hallmark. Originating from a shared vision of design that’s ethical, green, political, subversive, as well as pragmatic, the collection includes eight pieces, each one reflecting Starck’s mission statement: “Creation, whatever form it takes, must improve the lives of as many people as possible.
"This is reflected in the materials, which were chosen for their durability and longevity, so that the collection can be passed on to future generations. It’s also in line with what’s always been a central desire of the designer: “I live in the middle of nowhere … I dreamed of furniture that Nature could love, accept, and integrate. Different, personal, original, but timeless furniture that we could have found there, as it is. Furniture made with real wood, in the middle of the woods. But above all, which, like certain magical objects, although immobile, transports you back to other times, to other places, to other dreams. This is the reason the Serengeti collection exists".
There are eight pieces in the collection, each with canvas upholstery in shades of Gazelle, Horizon, and Tusk. The collection includes a cocktail and side tables, a dining table, an armchair, an ottoman, a lounge chair, and two-seater sofas, one classic and one with a high backrest and canopy. This last piece is the most iconic member of the Serengeti range, with its integrated canopy that extends out over your head but without obstructing your view.
All the pieces share clean lines and polished teak frames, with visible joinery and powder-coated aluminum. The sofas, armchairs, and ottoman all stand out for their deep, sumptuous cushions.
“And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.” Reading them today, these words by Shakespeare have the power to express a new relationship with nature and, in particular, a greater respect for human life and the environment. A similar line of thought was behind the creation of the new chair joining Fast’s outdoor collection, Ria. The design is intended to be “a window on the world, a visual story from dawn to dusk, a way of looking at one’s own spaces to then expand them so as to rediscover the domestic dimension.” The new chair was designed by Alberto Lievore.
In the firm’s catalog since January 2020, the Ria collection takes its name and design cues from rias, deep inlets found along steep coastlines, like those in Galicia, Brittany, and Sardinia. The way the cliffs encircle these coves is reflected in the design of the backrests of the various seats, beginning with the earliest models, in painted aluminum (Fast’s material of choice), finished partially or totally with woven rope. The latest arrival, a dining armchair, continues the theme, combining the strength and durability of aluminum with the pleasant tactile effect and softness of the low backrest and a waterproof fabric cushion.
Besides the dining chairs, the collection includes a lounge armchair, an armchair, two- and three-seater sofas, and a daybed, all featuring woven rope and accessorized with extra cushions for both domestic and contract settings. A similar dialogue with nature is repeated in the color palette, with numerous shades of nature represented. According to Fast, “Nature can and must be everywhere.”
The boundary between inside and outside is becoming increasingly blurred. Private and work spaces are increasingly overlapping. As are residential, public, business, and even nautical spaces. This is the background to the release of Poltrona Frau’s first (but not only) outdoor collection, presented at Milano Design Week 2021. The pieces are intended to go beyond any distinction between inside and out, catering to the changing moments of the day and the living spaces where they’re spent. In other words, this is a collection that can simultaneously define all those classic al fresco moments – by the pool, on a rooftop terrace, on a balcony, or in a wintergarden – but also time spent on deck of yachts and ships. Nicola Coropulis, CEO of Poltrona Frau, is quick to point out, however, that the aim of entering the outdoor furniture market isn’t just about pushing the physical limits, but also, and in particular, about providing an opportunity to “interpret space in a personal way” by creating a close connection with nature. In other words, this is a new way of thinking about indoor and outdoor spaces, brought to life by designers Roberto Lazzeroni, Ludovica and Roberto Palomba, and Kensaku Oshiro.
Designed by Roberto Lazzeroni, The Secret Garden collection is intended for dining and relaxation spaces. It comprises a large solid teak table with a natural finish and the top set with brown and green glazed stone; another low table that pairs with the lounge chairs; a coffee table; single armchairs; armchairs; two-seater sofas; and sunlounges with a diagonal polypropylene fiber structure; and chairs with wraparound backs, hand-woven ecru and taupe cotton straps, and solid wood armrests, inspired by vintage boats.
The Solaria collection, designed by Ludovica and Roberto Palomba, draws its inspiration from the beauty of Italy: the ports of Cinque Terre, the lemons of Sorrento, the silvery olive trees of Salento, and the orange blossom of Sicily. The collection comprises two- and three-seater sofas with modular units, armchairs with or without armrests, and square and rectangular tables with one or two levels. Only three materials have been used: stainless steel, rope, and fabric for the cushions. Starting from the cushions and backrests, each element features an intertwining motif based on the overlapped table tops with their crossed slats.
The Sparkler lantern collection, designed by Kensaku Oshiro, is a simple and poetic response to the complexities of outdoor lighting. Lightweight and easy to move around, they’re resistant to weathering and create their own special dialogue with natural light. When hit by sunlight, they create iridescent chiaroscuro effects, while at night they cast warm shadows that recall the designer’s Japanese origins. The luminaire has a safety system that prevents it from accidentally coming loose.
Keel represents a search for balance. Friuli-based company Potocco presented this new seating collection at Salone del Mobile. Designed by Mario Ferrarini and Victor Vasilev, the pieces were inspired by the nautical world. Comprising a chair, a low and high stool, a small armchair, and an armchair, the collection seeks a balance between its linear supporting structure of metal bars and the seats and backrests in solid ash (the indoor version ) or iroko (the outdoor version), with their rounded, soft lines. “This is an iconic, sophisticated, simple, and comfortable collection,” says art director Chiara Andreatt. The version on show in Milan had rust velvet upholstery with the backrests in biscuit-stained ash.
Desalto is another firm that’s breaking down barriers between living spaces. With its two new collections presented at Supersalone, its offering original ways of expressing its philosophy of balance between design and function, formal rigor and refinement.
Ellis is a line of tables designed by Pocci and Dondoli. Available in different heights and sizes, each one is characterized by contrasting wood or ceramic surfaces and its small cast iron and steels base, while simultaneously creating a sense of lightness and elegance.
Koki Wire, on the other hand, is an outdoor seating range, comprising a chair, lounge, stool, and sofa. Each piece is distinguished by the almost ethereal lightness of its shape, which conceals the robustness of its minimal drawn steel construction. Each piece is decisive and curvaceous, and also designed by Pocci and Dondoli. Each piece is also available with upholstered seats or with integral polyurethane.
Photos are courtesy of Janus et Cie, Fast, Poltrona Frau, Potocco, Desalto