Monetising outdoor spaces in the hospitality sector is all about effective use of furniture that is versatile, durable and stylish. Victoria Burrows reports.

Outdoor hospitality areas can be huge income drivers for hotels, resorts and restaurants, especially in the warmer climates of Asia. To keep these zones looking appealing and functioning smoothly, properties need furniture that offers personality as well as practicality.

Outdoor furniture must balance attractive and contemporary design with durability in the face of tough weather conditions, such as strong sun and seaside breezes. An increasingly important aspect in furniture choices is versatility.

“Durability is important for high traffic hospitality areas, which has always been part of our client education. It’s also important to note that clients are recognising that reliable after-sales service is a vital part of the entire process,” says Witchuda Rasri, sales manger at Hong Kong-based Suniture.

“But I think, more than versatility, it’s the ease of movement and storage that clients look for. In a hospitality setting, the goal is to have each sellable area sold, so each area will have its own set of furniture and furnishings ready for full capacity.

The challenge is how to make the capacity meet the demand with furniture and umbrellas that can be easily stored.”

Suniture makes stackable furniture and moveable umbrella bases, which have been designed to allow F&B staff to adapt a space to the booking.

The company, which has worked with big international hotel brands including Ritz-Carlton, Hyatt, Four Seasons, Marriott, Shangri-La, and Six Senses, also makes rain protection covers which extend the life of furniture and allows it to be used immediately after a heavy shower.

High tech solutions

As wet weather and other adverse conditions mean that outdoor furniture has to be extremely durable, furniture-makers are turning to technology for the latest solutions in sturdy and long-lasting materials.

Germany-headquartered Dedon has a range of highly durable outdoor furniture solutions, but describes its Dedon fibre as “revolutionary”.

Researched, developed, manufactured and quality-tested at their state-of-the-art production facilities in Northern Germany, the fibre is strong enough to withstand harsh conditions, yet supple enough to be woven into artful patterns. The fibre is maintenance-free and easy to clean, and it has been manufactured with sustainability principles – another major trend that continues to define outdoor furniture – in mind: it is non-toxic, non-polluting and fully recyclable.

Dedon’s latest ranges using this fibre include the Tigmi deep sofa, which also comes with a removable roof, the Seashell collection of chairs and side tables, and the Ahnda collection of one- and two-seater armchairs and table.

Other technologically advanced materials used in outdoor furniture in recent years include Urecel QuickDry foam, a hydro-blasted reticulated foam that allows water to drain rapidly and fresh air to circulate. The foam also has built in Uregard protection, an anti-microbial technology which prevents the growth of common moulds and fungus.

Gore Tenara thread, arguably the strongest outdoor thread in the world, is used by furniture-makers including Suniture to ensure seams remain durable.

Old-style still in

But it’s not all cutting-edge; traditional materials, such as wicker, and, particularly, teak – sustainably sourced, of course –continue to be popular this year.

Spanish brand Kettal has several ranges that use teak, including the Riva collection, which is based on the long tradition of plank construction of seat and back in outdoor seating. The collection includes a full complement of dining armchairs, club armchair, dining tables, two-seater sofa, three-seater sofa, small tables and deckchair, all made of teak.

Kettal’s Cala is a high-backed armchair inspired by the iconic and provocative classic film, Emmanuelle. The chair is weaved largely from rope that is customisable in terms of colour and coating, as well as similarly customisable cushioning, but comes with two options, of either teak legs or an aluminium pedestal base.

The Kettal Mesh collection by Patricia Urquiola now also includes a teak deck chair with adjustable backrest. The cushion fabrics are from the Terrain outdoor fabrics collection by Doshi Levien, and the decorative cushions from the Geometrics range, a vivid collection of jacquard fabrics in dots, diagonal lattice, a tri-colour check, dashes and intersecting stripes. Each pattern is created from mixing three yarn colours.

Colouring in

Bold patterns and colours are a major trend in outdoor furniture style this year. “Pillows and cushions are still a favourite way for clients to bring personality to, as well as refresh, their outdoor spaces,” says Rasri. “We see more patterns, stripes and small details getting more interest than the usual solid colours.”

Suniture’s Sunbuns (outdoor beanbags) in bold patterns including the Union Jack, and colours, such as fuschia and yellow, are gaining popularity in outdoor dining areas, according to Rasri.

At Dedon, too, colour is proving popular. “Green, greener, greenery – the tangy mix of yellow and green has energising qualities and is this year’s number one trend colour,” says Florence Jonker, head of marketing for the Asia-Pacific region at Dedon.

The Dala range by designer Stephen Burks at Dedon comprises a powder-coated frame of aluminium mesh through which colourful strands of fibre are woven, including in green and yellow. The very handy and vibrant Fedro chair has no legs, instead balancing on two skids, which allow the chair to rock back and forth. The chair has been designed for the beach or poolside, and is lightweight, stackable, and has a handle at the back for easy carrying. Colour combinations include navy, turquoise and red, as well as lime green, black, olive, tan, brown and grey.