Textiles suppliers target outdoor living with diverse designs
Donna Boyle Schwartz -- Casual Living, March 1, 2008
The term “interior design” is becoming somewhat of a misnomer, as suppliers of upscale home fashions are turning their attentions to exterior environments.
“In general, the distinction between inside and outside has dissolved,” said Soraya Chemaly, owner of Soraya Jones. “I believe our placemats and trays have great consumer appeal because the outside entertaining space is really an extension of people’s inside entertaining spaces. So, from a decorating and accessorizing perspective it makes more sense to have tabletop accessories that do double duty and make the two spaces work elegantly and dynamically together.”
Jones introduced more than 30 designs of vibrantly colored reversible placemats, with one side featuring a bold contemporary painting and the other a simple, contemporary graphic design. The company also offers nine styles of melamine trays in coordinating colors and designs.
A number of suppliers featured fashionable table linens designed for outdoor living. Pacific Merchants, for instance, presented two collections of placemats constructed from polyvinyl, runners and coasters made from outdoor furniture fabrics, and a collection constructed of polypropylene. Styles include wicker weave, basket weave and sisal weave, in 60 colors.
“These products are sophisticated enough to use on the dining room table indoors, but they are completely UV-safe, dishwasher safe, heat-resistant to 300 degrees; they won’t mold or mildew and you can even throw them in the dishwasher,” said Bruce Mannis, president, Pacific Merchants. “People are spending more money on their homes, and they want products that are more sophisticated.” Pacific Merchants also offers a full line of acacia wood serving pieces and trays suitable for outdoor use.
Chilewich, known for its high-fashion, contemporary placemats, table runners and floor mats, offered new styles that emulate woven grasses, as well as looks reminiscent of embroidery, all in sun- and water-resistant vinyl. “New homebuilders are spending more on outdoor living spaces with outdoor kitchens and fireplaces,” said Marcie Parmet, marketing director. “There is more of an emphasis on high-end outdoor living, and we are able to offer a modern aesthetic for this niche.”
Also in a contemporary vein, Design Ideas unveiled environmentally friendly EcoTwine placemats, coasters, rugs, baskets and storage items. The plastic “twine” is woven into richly-hued home fashions that are both functional and artistic.
“Our retail customers are always looking for fresh product, and we are able to pull in different customers with our new 'green’ items,” said Erin Soloman, sales and marketing coordinator, Design Ideas.
Other home fashions producers offered traditional indoor products such as throws, accent pillows and draperies for outdoor use. Textillery Weavers expanded its licensed Sunbrella collection of throws with stripes, plaids and windowpane styles in new shades of cucumber green, variegated blue and neutral hues. “We are taking outdoor decorating to a whole new level, because these are beautiful products that can be left outdoors without any ill effects,” said Judith Rose, designer. “The colors and textures stay fresh and vibrant all summer.”
Elaine Smith Pillows, known for its Sunbrella outdoor decorative pillows, added lovely new designs, including Dragonfly, Copper Leaf, Philodendron Leaf and a range of contemporary geometric patterns. “The end consumer is becoming more and more aware of the environment,” said principal Elaine Smith. “It’s a calming influence to have the look of nature around so, taking the outdoors in and the indoors out makes it closer to one space. We’re finding more and more that consumers like to have one palette that makes one continuous space.
“The Outdoor Room creates additional living space square footage and becomes an extension of the indoor living area,” Smith added. “Pillows are a great way to accent the Outdoor Room with colors that are on trend for home decor.”