Design trends push for polish
Richard Musel & Kathy Anderson -- Casual Living, 10/27/2011 5:00:49 AM
EVER SINCE THE PATIOS, DECKS AND COURTYARDS of yesteryear have been replaced with the concept of outdoor rooms, today's consumers are seeking stylish furniture grouped with upholstery and rugs. Lamps, planters, and dividers complete the ideal outdoor room, which is equally as color-and design-driven as its indoor cousins.
Compared to just a few years ago, outdoor furnishing colors are now bolder, more vibrant and widely varied, reflecting prevailing design trends of interior furnishings and apparel.
At the Sherwin-Williams Color and Design Center, headquartered in Greensboro, N.C., the color forecasting staff is busy tracking outdoor furniture trends for 2012. They predict that more shades of gray and the classic black and white will be jostling for attention with pearlescent coatings in 2012. Subtle and high-contrast two-tone effects with mid-tone blue and green hues will also be part of this mix.
Manufacturers of outdoor furniture and accessories have many material options from which to choose. These exciting design choices place varied technical demands on coating manufacturers. Plastic resin, aluminum, wrought iron and wood each present particular coating and finishing challenges. Coatings manufacturers need to keep investing in technologies that provide color and finish consistency across substrates. This is especially true when considering the "elements" of outdoor environments - sun exposure, precipitation, and temperature and humidity fluctuations.
2012 trends will have an impact on coating choices for a variety of popular outdoor materials.
Metallic or stone-like finishes gained recent popularity for decorating plastic tables, planters and dividers. While stone and metal effects will remain in the planter category, high-gloss solids will continue to thrive in commercial settings and are becoming more and more prevalent in residential settings. Softer, pearlescent effects will emerge in plastic resin furniture, following recent trends in consumer packaging and in-store marketing.
From the traditional elegance of formal wrought-iron garden furniture to more contemporary aluminum options, finishes for metal require durability and the ability to withstand fading and chipping. Aluminum is popular due to its strength, durability, weight and corrosion resistance. Similar to plastic resins, pearlescent applications will prevail in 2012.
The all-weather appeal of traditional wicker and rattan ensures its continued popularity. These natural materials, however, require additional maintenance that today's busy homeowners would rather avoid. To that end, manufacturers have been offering woven plastic resins that mimic the look and appearance of wicker. Because these synthetic materials can withstand rain and humidity for years, they provide a better option for exterior use. To further expand the design portfolio, wovens may be used in conjunction with other substrates, requiring color matching across materials and types of finish.
The popularity of outdoor rooms will continue to grow, further blurring the line between indoor and outdoor as well as the furniture and accessories for each. Consumers now rightly expect that their outdoor décor will sustain its beauty throughout exposure to the elements. Pearlescent finishes, grays, soft greens and blues, and classic black and white and are on the 2012 horizon.
Just as outdoor room afficionados are utilizing today's technologies to make their spaces usable practically year-round, Sherwin-Williams is seasonless when it comes to research and development. Its collaborative work with outdoor furniture manufacturers and leading leisure brands requires R&D as well as innovative thinking to create finishing systems that will meet and exceed their requirements for color quality and durability across global manufacturing footprints.