Nicole Crews -- Casual Living, 6/1/2012 2:00:00 AM
I've just been to Las Vegas - entertainment, resort and partying capital of the world - and the only thing that got loaded was my camera.
Laugh if you will, but it's a recurring theme in my travel life. Whether on a work junket or vacation, I'm usually the snap-happiest kid in the room (and in many cases, the outdoor room). I don't know why I have this compulsion to photograph outdoor spaces, but my obsession with resorts and dream destinations started long before my tenure at Casual Living, and well before my first trek to the Hospitality Design Expo + Convention in Vegas.
While covering the Thai Cooking School at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, I shot at least six rolls (yes, this was the pre-digital era) of the newly opened, lotus flower laden spa where indoor/outdoor space flows as effluviently as the Chao Phraya River on whose banks it resides.
When I was in college and studying at Universidad Complutense in Madrid, I did an essay on Spanish café culture - and spent days on end photographing sidewalk cafes and the short fan-flipping men and women who occupied the outdoor chairs and tables.
Like many, I think I equate commercial outdoor spaces with sophistication, charm and relaxation. It's just so darned civilized. And let's face it, it's pretty hard to get uptight when you are lounging poolside or dining al fresco in some exotic locale.
On the other hand, paradise has its price. And for many folks in today's economy, dream destinations just don't fit the bill - but the desire for that escapism still exists.
Enter the staycation and the burgeoning concept of the outdoor room. Even for those with deep pockets, the desire to bring a little something home with them from their resort or destination vacation extends to the patio.
"What's so interesting about the contract market is that in many cases it serves as inspiration for the residential market," said Dave Dimeko, Southeast sales director, Frontgate Contract, "and by that I mean both contract design influencing residential design and the consumer wanting to recreate something for themselves that they've seen at a resort or even in a magazine or on television."
So whether you're an outdoor voyeur like me, a budget-conscious staycationer or a jet-setter with an eye for design - inspirations for the outdoor room are all around you. And in HD Expo's case, what happened in Vegas doesn't necessarily need to stay there.
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