The 2015 International Furniture Show in Chicago occurred last week. The show presents an exciting opportunity to see what’s trending and the new product lines that will be introduced in the coming months.
For furniture manufacturers, the focus centers on design, comfort and maintenance. Everyone desires to be innovative, offering a different look than the competition. It is my job to look at the track record of the manufacturer as it relates to quality, warranty issues, customer service and who provides truly functional options for my clients.
As a general rule, outdoor furniture is made from wrought iron, aluminum, wicker or wood. Aluminum can be cast, solid molded frames or hollow tube wrought frames. Wicker can be natural, bamboo or resin. Wood can be a variety of tropical hardwoods. Each frame material has advantages and disadvantages, depending on your lifestyle and expectations.
Outdoor fabric should be solution dyed, acrylic or polyester. There are many companies that produce high-quality outdoor fabric, with Sunbrella being the most widely known.Summer Classics outdoor furniture really stands out. It is exciting and unexpected, timeless yet fashionable. At Summer Classics the designers are inspired to create sophisticated products. They do this by combining traditional craftsmanship with the innovative use of diverse materials. In our disposable culture, this makes Summer Classics a purchase that can be enjoyed by multiple generations of your family. Summer Classics has been designing outdoor furniture for over a quarter century.
- My most popular product in 2015 was the sectional. The Summer Classics Club collection sectional offers the ultimate in comfort with multi-tonal resin wicker in frames that are not overly large in scale and fit most spaces beautifully. It creates a great space to stretch out with a good book or entertain a group. The Club collection has added curves. Many customers have curved walls that they wish to fit and now we’ll be able to make that happen!
- I have had several customers that are searching for a comfortable aluminum chair that swivels and rocks. Summer Classics has introduced the Belize in a two-tone frame of wrought aluminum that provides the swivel/rocking option in style and comfort.
- The Charleston collection was another popular group in 2015. Summer Classics has introduced the swivel rocking lounge chair to this series as well. Charleston combines beautifully with the wicker Club group to provide textural differences that compliment without being “matchy-matchy”.
- The Bentley collection is a beautiful contemporary wicker frame where luxury meets low maintenance. Their patented N-Dura resin wicker combines with reticulated foam to provide comfortable seating without the need for cushions.
- Summer Classics has added Slate Gray to their line-up of cast aluminum finishes. I saw it on the Provance series, which tends to have a French country look. The new Slate Gray actually made the group look masculine in that the tonal finish really accentuates the details on the piece and offers a completely different look and feel.
- Sand Chairs in resin wicker have been added to the Athena and Skye collections for use at the beach and pool. The look is very cool and comfortable and does not require cushions!
- The Coast collection is teak combined with taupe Batyline sling upholstery, offering simple, clean, modern designs with stainless steel accents and mortise and tenon joinery. This is much more than your typical piece of wood sling furniture.
Polywood is an Indianapolis based company that uses recycled plastics, primarily milk jugs and water bottles, to produce furniture that offers a 20 year warranty. This is a very innovative American company that is looking for an opportunity to go to the next level of demand for the consumer.
- In 2016, Polywood is adding the Select product series with the same warranty as their other furniture lines. This product will not be offered in big box stores.
- Select is painstakingly manufactured using the same recycled products but the production process and the look of the material is very different. It looks and handles like wood and will be offered in three colors: Rosewood, Natural and Bronzewood. They are initially introducing it in dining sets with plans to expand into lounge furniture in the future.
- During the production process for the Select line, they literally produce planks that run through routers to produce molded edges, giving the material the look of wood construction. It is gorgeous!
- This is a very exciting addition for the consumer that wants and needs LOW maintenance but prefers a luxurious appearance.
Jensen Leisure produces high-quality Ipe furniture that is popular for its clean contemporary lines and furniture that is functional and comfortable. Jensen has added a very exciting comfort group that is trimmed in Ipe but is woven in an all-weather Viro resin wicker called Coral. The collection immediately caught my eye, as it offers beautiful lines, interesting textures and is very comfortable! This will definitely be a game changer for Jensen. I do anticipate that it will be hard to get this in 2016 because of the popularity and quality control process used to manufacture these pieces. The materials are brought into the US and then combined at the warehouse. It is a bit more tedious of a process but allows superior control quality. The Coral line is definitely worth a look to supplement your existing IPE groups, as it will be a beautiful compliment to your outdoor space! But plan with me early!!
There are SO many options out there. How do you know you are getting the best value for your dollar? When it comes to outdoor furniture, there are definitely ‘good’, ‘better’ and ‘best’ options. Professional assistance will help ensure you get the best value. I will also work with you to implement your furniture plan over time so that you can manage your cash flow and add to your collection in a way that makes sense for you, your family and how your entertaining habits change.
Let’s meet to start planning for the important events and daily use you already have in mind for Spring 2016. You will be anxious to get the most from your outdoor space after being cooped up all winter. A little planning now will ensure you have created the space you desire when important events occur next year. Don’t wait until the last minute and be at the mercy of whatever is left in inventory. Retail inventories are shrinking for most retailers to help control costs and improve pricing for the customer. It’s always best to start with a plan!