Shopping For Trends
Susan Andrews -- Casual Living, September 30, 2013
For outdoor furniture and accessory manufacturers, retailers and buyers, the September International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market is the place to see and learn about new products and trends for 2014. From modular deep seating collections and functional grilling stations to high-performance dining sets and aesthetically pleasing furniture accents, this year's Casual Market is poised to have the most prolific mix of innovative products to date.
"With easy navigation, retailers and buyers will have the opportunity to view a wide range of new product trends for next year, allowing them to make informed purchasing decisions," said Jaclyn Kelly, senior director of marketing for the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market MMPI. "The newly redesigned showroom floor plans, in combination with the eighth floor Market Suites, will enable attendees to experience a new way of easy shopping at the Casual Market." This selection of rising trends is worth watching for outdoor furniture and accessory retailers, dealers and designers, as sights are set for a successful year ahead.
Skyline Design / Wilshire Chaise Lounger
SPREADING OUT - SPACIOUS GRILLING STATIONS
Consumers are looking for creative ways to upgrade their outdoor decks and patios with spacious cooking and grilling stations to suit their backyard entertaining needs. According to a recent survey about outdoor living trends conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects, 74.4% of those that participated said additional counter space in outdoor areas is a high priority. In light of this demand, several grill manufacturers are responding to this trend.
One company leading the way is Big Green Egg. The Big Green Egg Cooking Island provides ample storage space for grilling accessories, while the counter enables homeowners to comfortably prepare meals for backyard parties and gatherings. Moreover, the unique rounded contours of the counter design, which is exclusive to Big Green Egg, create a functional piece of art.
Big Green Egg / Big Green Egg Custom Island
ARTFUL ELEMENTS - AESTHETICALLY ENHANCED FURNITURE
Banding and bolsters are just a couple of ways furniture manufacturers are augmenting their outdoor furniture offerings. Many consumers are looking for additional backyard space elements that reflect their personal tastes and preferences. This includes choosing artistically enhanced outdoor furniture collections that can be customized to complement existing color palettes and accessories. In addition, some banded cushions and bolsters can be interchanged to create an entirely different look at the drop of a hat.
Skyline Design's Wilshire chaise lounge features a banded cushion of Sunbrella fabric and an exclusive, adjustable bolster, making it a product of "outdoor couture." For retailers and buyers, this type of furniture provides the opportunity to stock a wide variety of accent selections spanning multiple design styles to meet the needs of more customers.
EASY DOES IT - LOWMAINTENANCE DINING COLLECTIONS
Low-maintenance dining collections are all the rage, and Telescope Casual Furniture is on the fast-track to paving the way with its Bazza sling dining collection. "Now you do not have to choose between something very durable or something stylish, you can have both," said Adam Vanderminden, advertising director at Telescope Casual Furniture.
For retailers, this is a good selling point. As consumers are spending more time enjoying their outdoor spaces, the need for low-maintenance furniture is highly appealing. The Bazza sling dining collection is constructed from Telescope's Marine Grade Polymer, a recycled high-performance plastic. It is cool to the touch on hot days, and the material is not porous, therefore it is resistant to mildew and mold. It is these types of low-maintenance products that are capturing the attention of consumers with carefree spring, summer and fall seasons in mind.
OW Lee / Aero Fire Pit
SCORCHING HAUTE - INDUSTRIAL-STYLE FIRE PITS
While traditional outdoor furniture and accessories never go out of fashion, contemporary, industrial-style designs are also taking their place in outdoor rooms. Many retailers are looking to complement their inventories of traditional outdoor items with those that have a more edgy, sleek appearance. Not only does this include furniture, but the category also comprises fire pits.
Outdoor fire pits designed with an industrial flair create the illusion of simplicity and sophistication for modern lifestyles, such as OW Lee's Aero fire pit. "We see this as a definite trend," said Leisa Rogers McCollister, marketing/ project manager for OW Lee. The signature industrial style often incorporates strong angular shapes, metallic colors and an overall sense of working practicality. Manufactured with new and innovative technologies, outdoor fire pits that exude functionality and rusticism are in high demand among consumers.
Telescope Casual Furniture / Bazza Sling Collection
PARTS MAKE A WHOLE - MODULAR SEATING UNITS
Manufacturers are seeing an uptick in requests for modular seating units to accompany traditional seating collections for retail showroom displays. With consumers' varying tastes, the need to satisfy all design style preferences to attract a wider range of customers is increasingly important. Modular seating collections are well-suited for both contemporary and transitional-style settings, allowing for versatility. These types of seating units can be customized into a multitude of configurations, allowing homeowners to further personalize their outdoor areas.
The option to shape modular deep seating collections also enables these sets to be used in both large and small spaces, adding a unique selling point for retailers. A good example is Gloster's Casa modular set. Its mix of bright, stainless steel accents with dark, metallic covering conveys an entertaining visual contrast that easily makes for a great focal point.
Gloster / Casa Modular Set
SECURE AND STURDY - FUNCTIONAL SHADE ACCESSORIES
The Casual Market is host to a wide range of outdoor accessory manufacturers, including those that specialize in producing functional shade accessories. The accumulating assortment of shade accessories ranges from high-end lighting designs and heating systems to protective shade covers and sturdy umbrella locks. These accessories play an important role for allowing homeowners to enjoy their backyard spaces all year long and during the day or at night. In addition, this rising trend of functional shade accessories enables retailers to market premium shade systems as well as further increase sales with add-ons.
Simple yet effective, Lockdown Industries' Umbrella-Lok is one such shade accessory hitting the marketplace this year. It fastens umbrella stands to ground-surfaces so umbrellas can withstand various weather extremities without blowing over or toppling. Designed to work with both wood and composite decks, the Umbrella-Lok is manufactured from UV-resistant materials and breaks down easily for storage.
Eberly and de Bruin work with Eberly & Collard Public Relations, a national PR firm that specializes in the home, garden and design industries, and is the official PR firm for the Casual Market. They can be reached through www.eberlycollardpr.com.
Lockdown Industries / Umbrella-Lok