This month Hotel News ME asks outdoor furniture specialists to discuss the latest design trends, innovations and how eco-friendly materials are shaping up the way outdoor furniture is manufactured.
What are some of the latest trends in the market for outdoor furniture?
Van der Werf: One of the trends we see is mixing colours, a lot of venues choose a mix of two or three colours to complement their theme/concept. They start out with a neutral tone for the table (i.e. black, white, grey, beige) and then add chairs in bright and contrasting shades to really personalise the space.:
Wilcox: We are seeing a drive towards long lasting durable products with a view to a long term investment rather than just getting the hotel open. The other trend is for uniqueness to the design so either customising a current product to suit the client or producing a design the client submits.
Di Savino: Eclectic mixing and matching has emerged into an avant-garde trend. Combining furniture pieces made of different materials and textiles is allowing for the creation of unique outdoor spaces for each individual property. We are seeing aluminium chairs combined with teakwood dining tables, rattan loungers mixed with aluminium side tables the possibilities are endless.
Besate: Producing outdoor furniture and finding the ideal combination between the usefulness of the product and a unique design is what people are looking for, fun and friendly concepts.
Clarke: A recent trend we’re seeing in hotel design is the blurring of boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces. Designers are incorporating natural elements, including greenery walls, large windows for natural light and water features, indoors, while integrating the comfort and extensive amenities found within the hotel in the outdoor space with features like al fresco dining areas, fully integrated outdoor kitchens, fireplaces and open-air living rooms.
Kabbej: I would say that some of the latest trends in the market available for outdoor furniture are upholstered sofas to give a more comfy feel to the outdoors and dining scene, plus roped and knitted sofas.
Al Sheikh: Another trend is the move towards metal materials, which are easy to maintain, lightweight yet robust, and feature a modern and clean look. With our special protective coating, metal tends to last a lot longer than the traditional wood and plastic materials.
Corko: We have just launched our latest outdoor furniture collection, Haute couture 2015. The whole collection was designed in Europe, but with the ‘touch’ of Middle Eastern art and heritage. Designs are highly contemporary, for the most demanding guest of the 5* properties, the same as our exclusive clients are.
Shidlovskiy: The latest trends include furniture woven with polyester braid rope, a material often seen in the marine environment. Based on our experience, this material is best suited for European climate and hence, we turned towards glass reinforced plastic, or fibreglass. This material can easily withstand the heat, humidity and airborne salinity combined, providing bespoke aesthetics and reliability.
What new fabrics and materials are currently in and making a comeback to the market?
Van der Werf: Integrated fabric, instead of added cushions, i.e. the Fermob Costa range is a combination of an aluminium frame with what is known as Outdoor Technical Fabric. Specifically engineered for outdoor use, the material makes cushions redundant. Comfortable to sit on, it is a super-strong, yet lightly woven fabric that is well ventilated and comfortable when sitting for any length of time.
Clarke: Neutrals remain popular, but this year there has been a huge trend in creating a French Riviera feel. Another huge trend is wood but the challenge is the durability and maintenance of real wood. TUUCI has developed a product called “Aluma-TEAK,” a marine-grade, aluminum parasol with a durable veil that gives and authentic look of wood, yet produces a product that is highly engineered and durable.
Wilcox: Teak wood is still popular as ever especially with the resorts along with belting and fully upholstered furniture doing away with wicker finishes.
Di Savino: There are no rules, mixing vibrant colours and patterns with more subtle and introverted hues works, for instance, blending the old with new, bold and subtle, stripes with checks, it all works.
Besate: For us at FIM we are seeing a sure rise in the demand for products that use micromesh fabrics, wood is coming back in for some markets.
Al Sheikh: The latest design trends for 2015 call for out-of-the-ordinary combinations such as mixing, contrasting prints such as stripes and floral and mingling bright vivid shades like poppy red and zesty yellow with neutrals like gray and tan.
Shidlovskiy: With regards to materials, all weather wicker is still the predominant choice of outdoor furniture in the hospitality industry, we are slowly seeing the demand for lightweight aluminium furniture once again.
What qualities are hotels now looking for in the furniture that they buy?
Van der Werf: They require mobility, so light and stackable or foldable furniture for ease of setting up and storage and are also looking for durability, as well as items that are scratch and weather resistant. We offer a three-year warranty on our Fermob contract furniture. All chairs and tables are treated with a special coating for added protection.
Al Sheikh: Four things summarise hotel requirements when it comes to outdoor furniture: firstly that it be of high quality, secondly is the furniture’s durability, but also size and stackability. They also would like good after sales service, and having a reputable company to guarantee the needed services.
Shidlovskiy: The initial demand for longevity is now no longer the focus with short-term changes in trends and designs, hotels look for simple yet robust products for a period of no longer than three years as by then new designs would emerge and change would be inevitable, given the budgets of course.
Clarke: Hotels need products that are durable, long lasting and can stand up to the elements and extensive traffic throughout the seasons. Products that have replaceable parts are extremely beneficial and cost effective.
Wilcox: Hotels are looking at value for money with a view of a long term purchase and partnership. So are looking for a product that suits their design but has the durability to last 5 years plus in this harsh climate.
Di Savino: Hoteliers are looking to purchase commercial grade furniture that has been tested for strength and durability; products that can withstand the harsh climate and products from companies that offer after sales support and backed up by product warranties
Is there more demand for recycled and sustainable materials?
Al Sheikh: At Rattan House, every product has been made keeping the environment in mind. We use 100% recyclable material of the highest quality in the manufacturing process and all our furniture is UV protected. Leading manufacturers provide our world-class synthetic fiber such as Rehau and Viro as well as our weatherproof outdoor fabric such as Sunbrella, Texsilk and Sunproof.
Di Savino: With greater awareness placed on the environment and the future of it, there is definitely a rise by owners and operators towards responsible procurement and we are seeing more properties adapting to green practices. Today the process of procuring takes into consideration environmental and socio-economic issues.
Van der Werf: Not necessarily for recycled materials, however durability (which makes it more sustainable as it is long-lasting) is very important. Instead of opting for cheap furniture, which is unlikely to last for longer than a season, operators nowadays focus more on making a high-quality, long-term investment.
What measures do hotels have to take in order to preserve their furniture from the extreme heat, sunshine and often dust storms?
Van der Werf: If the furniture is exposed to a lot of direct sunlight, opt for light metal materials and specially designed fabrics and choose furniture that can be easily moved and stored, so that it is protected when not in use and, hence, lasts longer, protective covers are also good measure.
Al Sheikh: Some of these measure include, cleaning the furniture regularly, cover your furniture, close umbrellas when the weather is stormy.
Wilcox: Casualife constructs all its furniture to suit the harsh climates in the GCC area (GCC specified) so no additional maintenance is need to accommodate the weather. However a comprehensive care & maintenance manual is provided to the customer when we supply.
Di Savino: Teakwood requires oiling to protect the items against water, wind, heat and cold. Synthetic rattan is a bit more sensitive to the elements and may require furniture covers when not in use. Furniture manufactured in aluminium is one of the easiest to preserve as it requires minimal maintenance and is strong enough to withstand heat, sun, and sandstorms. Cushion covers should be upholstered in weather resistant materials and are best removed when not in use.
Besate: We always recommend that clients should use protective covers that we supply for all of our FIM range of products, but it is also important for all outdoor furniture to be serviced and maintained regularly and to close umbrellas in case of strong winds.
Clarke: The easiest way to protect furniture from damaging UV radiation, humidity and water is to shield it from the elements with parasols or pavilions. If hotels are using metal outdoor furniture, an effective shade structure prevents seating from becoming extremely hot and uncomfortable for guests when there is extreme heat and sun. For shade coverings and upholstery it is important to use fade resistant fabrics that are able to withstand years in the sun without losing vibrancy.
What are three of the most popular outdoor furniture items on the market at the moment and why?
Van der Werf: Beanbags for outdoor use – for the ultimate lounge feeling, for sipping sundowners and relaxing with friends. High quality sun loungers and deck chairs in new materials, as opposed to the traditional wood, plastic or synthetic wicker materials, high quality dining tables in small sizes, that can easily be placed together to create larger tables when needed – giving you flexibility in set-up.
Al Sheikh: Living sets and lounges; they turn your outdoor space into an extra room to entertain the guests, dining sets; outdoor outlets are the best place to dine during nice weather, sun-beds & umbrellas; beaches and swimming pools are major attractions in Hotels.
Di Savino: Furniture is like fashion, new styles and trends with each changing season. At the moment with the rise of ‘chat & chill’ areas we are seeing a trend towards versatile sofas, day beds and lounge seating manufactured in aluminium. Items that offer flexible use and that can be used for a multitude of purposes or functions are widely sought after.
What safety features should hotels take into consideration before purchasing and choosing their selected furniture and why are these factors important?
Van der Werf: If you choose folding chairs, or furniture with adjustable backrests like sun loungers, make sure the mechanism is safe and easy to operate to prevent fingers from getting stuck! Only with good quality and branded furniture can you be sure that this has been tested properly.
Di Savino: Purchasing from a reputable manufacturer with many years of experience in the contract furniture market is paramount and to verify to whom the company has supplied to. The supplier should offer product warranties on all its furniture and should be able to provide after sales support. Basically, there must be assurance of the supplier’s capability when procuring products.
Kabbej: So many factors come into play in order to make furniture safe for use in hotels, things that should always be taken into consideration is, ddurability, functionality, maintenance free, comfort, no sharp edges and adapted to their own climate criteria to avoid injury or burns.
Clarke: Hotels should ensure that all furniture is in accordance with country requirements and standards and perform regular safety checks as a protective measure should a legal issue ever arise.
What are some of your best sellers and why?
Van der Werf: Fatboy original outdoor as it is a stylish, oversized beanbag made of Sunbrella fabric, for outdoor heave-duty use. Fermob Luxembourg chairs and tables, available in 24 colours and made of light- weight aluminium, the chairs are stackable, extremely strong and beautifully designed. Fermob Alize sun loungers and deck chairs designed by Pascal Mourgue, this collection is a lesson in lightness, which sees an aluminium frame combined with outdoor technical fabric.
Corko: Our core products are own production of outdoor furniture made with only the finest raw materials, our upholstery made in Dubai is of the finest foams and fabrics. We also do sun umbrellas, with the range of our own Premium Deluxe parasols and with the distribution of Scolaro designed umbrellas, made in Italy and Uhlmann heavy duty high quality umbrellas made in Germany.
Di Savino: Our best selling items are the Monte Carlo, Corsica and Santa Fe collections. All three are manufactured in high-grade durable aluminium, powder coated to the customer’s choice of colour and upholstered in weather resistant fabrics. Aluminium is a cost effective furniture solution as once delivered it is virtually maintenance free.
Al Sheikh: Rattan House has several best selling items, including the following: Clayton corner set: because of it’s flexibility factor, it is like a puzzle you can re-arrange it into any set. Round lounge offers a relaxation factor with a canopy and our Hilo dining Set, everyone likes to dine with style.
Clarke: Our Cantilevers, these parasols are hot items in the market due to the fact that their mast is on the side and does not block views of the table, pools or other guests. They are also offered in a wide range of shapes and sizes to fit the area, which needs to be shaded.
Pavilions create a luxury statement and provide a shady outdoor room for guests to claim while spending time at the pool. They also offer a way for Hotels to build revenue; they can be rented by the hour or day and often times with different layers of luxury at an additional cost. MAX products: Large Shade products are an economical solution for properties needing to cover large spaces with minimal expenses.