The Great Outdoors

A number of interior designers, architects, and lifestyle brands have entered into licensing deals for outdoor furniture in the past year, with several marking their first entry into this category:

  • Interior designer Alexa Hampton partnered with Woodard for her inaugural collection of outdoor furniture. Her other licensees include Theodore Alexander (indoor furniture), Visual Comfort and Generation (both for lighting), Kravet (fabrics and trims), Stark (carpet), Eastern Accents (pillows and bedding), La Gallina Matta (table linens), SA Baxter (hardware), Chesney’s (mantels), White River (moldings), and Globus Cork (flooring).
  • Meredith’s Coastal Living magazine paired with Universal Furniture for an outdoor collection in both modern and traditional looks, made from teak, wicker, aluminum, and cast concrete. This represents Universal’s initial extension into the outdoor space. The two partners launched an indoor collection in 2018, followed by another in early 2020, before moving to the outdoors.
  • Danish architecture studio Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), known for large-scale projects such as skyscrapers and power plants, entered the category through a collaboration with Skagerak, a global firm also based in Denmark. The Lilium lightweight garden furniture collection is designed to be flexible enough to be used for indoor living or workspaces, as well as patios. This is the architects’ first foray into designing for the outdoor space.
  • The Rich Brothers, owners of U.K. luxury landscaping firm Rich Landscapes, author of Love Your Plot, and, most notably, stars of the BBC series Garden Rescue since 2016, paired with Habitat for an outdoor furniture assortment. The collection, available online, is meant to be functional, affordable, and flexible for all types of outdoor spaces.
  • French industrial designer and architect Philippe Starck worked with B&B Italia, an Italian furniture label, on a collection of outdoor couches and armchairs called Oh, It Rains!. The functional pieces have foldable backrests that can transition easily into a protective canopy during inclement weather. Starck has had a long list of licensing and collaboration deals over the years, mostly for home goods and gifts, with partners ranging from Kartell to Target to Baccarat.
  • Interior designer Kelly Behun teamed with The Invisible Collection on a U.S.-made Mediterranean mosaic and bleached mahogany outdoor range inspired by architect Antoni Gaudí and designer Carlo Bugatti. Other Behun licensees include The Rug Company and Hudson Valley Lighting. The Invisible Collection has developed furniture ranges with 100 different designers and design labels.

While demand for outdoor décor and furniture has been on the rise for several years, that growth has intensified with the pandemic. Consumers have been spending time on DIY projects outdoors, including improving their gardens, completing landscaping projects, and building or enhancing their patios and decks, making those areas more enticing. Many are using their outdoor areas more than in the past simply as a way to get out of the house, weather permitting. And an outdoor space is one of the few options available for hosting small gatherings safely, an important attribute in this time of isolation.

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