Tuned to Trends
Luxury, comfort and function transform outdoor living
Dominique de Bruin & Don Eberly -- Casual Living, 10/1/2012 2:00:00 AM
The international Casual furniture & Accessories Market may be over, but the buzz of the show is still present. This year, industry movers and shakers displayed new, innovative products in a variety of categories, from technologically advanced shade structures and dining height fire tables to stackable chairs and deep seating collections made with indoor-outdoor styling. What's more, retailers and buyers had the opportunity to see new product and design trends that will shape the ways in which they sell and market for 2013.
Every year, the Casual Market gives rise to emerging trends in the casual furniture and accessories industry. The show is designed to enable attendees to plan ahead and make informed decisions about stocking inventory for the next season. "This year's Casual Market showcased not only brand new trends, but also offered a look at how some trends are maturing and changing," said Jaclyn Kelly, senior director of marketing for the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market/MMPI. "Retailers, designers and other industry professionals had the opportunity to learn about which types of outdoor furniture and accessories consumers will be seeking in 2013."
OUTDOOR ROOMS WITH INDOOR FLAIR
Luxury outdoor spaces with deep seating collections, side tables, area rugs and accessories that have the feel of indoor living rooms are becoming increasingly popular. This trend encourages homeowners to invest in durable, high-quality outdoor furniture products that mimic indoor furniture and accessories.
As more consumers are demanding this type of setting, manufacturers are rising to meet their needs. Sophisticated outdoor lines such as Pride Family Brands' French Quarter Collection evoke luxury and elegance as well as comfort and functionality, all of which are key factors when designing both indoor and outdoor rooms. Retailers can present outdoor sets with full seating, end tables, ottomans and rugs to customers, reminding them of their interior living rooms and dens. With this knowledge, they can create the same type of livable luxury on the porch or patio, which can lead to the ability of selling the entire outdoor room package.
Stackable chairs were seen in abundance at this year's show. These chairs are space-saving, versatile and have the ability to quickly transform outdoor areas into functional gathering spaces. Outdoor space is at a premium these days. Many expert sources believe homeowners are purchasing smaller homes, resulting in less exterior space. According to Small House Society Co-founder Gregory Johnson, the average size for new residential construction will move from 2,500 square feet to between 1,000 and 1,500 square feet over the next few years. Porches, patios and decks will trend towards shrinking in size along with the homes.
With this in mind, one way retailers will want to market space-saving products is through the trend of stackable chairs. They can be transported from storage or different locations to accommodate guests during outdoor gatherings. Gloster's Riva collection boasts one type of stackable chair with high-end styling and color options, working well in residential and commercial spaces.
DINING WITH FIRE
Tables with built-in fire features have been trending for a few years, but the evolution of this trend is the emergence of dining height fire tables. As every retailer knows, when consumers are shopping for outdoor furniture and accessories, the dining table is the quintessential outdoor room product. Whether a homeowner's outdoor space is large or small, many view the dining table as a must-have item. In addition, since more consumers are spending time at home rather than traveling, outdoor spaces need to have the same feel and effect as a vacation destination.
Selling dining height fire tables for both form and function capabilities will give retailers a unique marketing opportunity. Mallin Casual Furniture is one company at the forefront of this developing trend with a new dining height fire table that was displayed during Casual Market.
CUSTOMIZABLE SHADE SYSTEMS
Customization is a rising trend in the outdoor furniture and accessories industry. The ability to order nearly any shape and size parasol or shade pavilion with a multitude of operating systems, material choices and unique finishes is prevalent in the minds of many homeowners. Consumers are looking for exceptional design, functionality and lasting value. They also desire innovative concepts that fit within their outdoor spaces. This enables them to create patios and decks that match many different personal design tastes.
Outdoor shade manufacturer TUUCI is an expert at this kind of customization. TUUCI manufactures a wide variety of shade systems that can be customized in size, shape, base frame and fabric color. As an example, the company's new Plantation Max F-1 comes in two different sizes and shapes, and is available with a variety of options such as Sunbrella or Firesist fabric. As if that were not enough from which to choose to create personal styling, contrasting pockets and/or binding, Aluma-TEAK finishes in Natural, Weathered or Java, and accent borders on the canopy are also available.
MOTION ALL AROUND
At this year's International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market, many manufacturers debuted dining and club chairs with 360 degrees of motion. While motion chairs aren't new, the industry is definitely seeing an evolution in the trend. Club chairs that feature forward and back as well as side-to-side motions, such as OW Lee's Gios swivel rocker club chair, enables retailers to market ultimate comfort and practicality, much like indoor La-Z-Boy chairs.
In addition, this type of motion seating is available in a variety of styles, ranging from deep seating to slings. The dozens of options offer as much flexibility as the motion chairs themselves.
MADE IN THE USA
These days, more and more consumers are investing in American-made products. From locally grown produce to homes made with American building products, this whirlwind trend is taking center stage. Naturally, the outdoor furniture and accessories industry is also embracing the desire for American made products like never before.
Highwood USA, manufacturer of outdoor furniture and accessories made from high-quality, eco-friendly synthetic wood, is among one of the many industry manufacturers producing outdoor products on American soil. The company's wide range of furniture and accessories such as the Pocono Collection deep seating line and flower box with decorative brackets are just two examples. Producing them in the United States equates to a higher level of quality control and on-time shipments.
DESIGNED FOR VERSATILITY
At this year's International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market, a national consumer media panel - one in a line-up of sessions and events - revealed that homeowners are looking for choices and versatility when it comes to investing in outdoor furniture. Brown Jordan's Sway chaise lounge chair is a classic example that displays versatility. Influenced by clean lines and cutting-edge design, the Sway chaise is the epitome of modern outdoor furniture. But the chaise's rounded corners soften the look, ensuring the chaise and the other pieces in the collection can be mixed and matched with other modern and transitional lines designed by Richard Frinier.
Furthermore, versatile outdoor furniture collections give retailers the opportunity to stock a wide variety of selections from a single or several manufacturers, while spanning multiple design styles to meet the needs of more customers.
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