A life without limits. The idea is like Catnip to anyone who has lived through the last three years of a pandemic. But there are three heritage brands who seem to have embraced the idea with particular vim, authoring not just new al fresco collections but a whole new way of living.
It began, as most things do, at the Supersalone in Milan.
“Home has become our lives,” said Nicola Coropulis, CEO of Poltrona Frau, at the unveiling of their Boundless Living exhibition. “And with it, the boundaries between private and public, indoor and outdoor are less and less defined.”
Meeting the needs of such a moment would require more than just corporate confidence, however. Of all the many attempts to create welcoming garden rooms, few have truly succeeded, hamstringed as they are by fabric technology or narrow expectations of what an al fresco collection can be.
“Home has become our lives and the boundaries between indoor and outdoor are less and less defined."
It explains why at Poltrona Frau, they decided on a truly holistic approach; teaming up with a roster of international designers who would design not just the traditional lounging and dining solutions but a flurry of carpets, baskets and lighting — an immersive approach intended to line the outdoors with softness.
Secret Garden Collection
Solaria Lounge Collection
The focus on tactility is a key marker in this new al fresco revolution.
“For aeons, outdoor furniture was characterised by timber and teak,” says Ludovic Aublanc, Creative Director at Chaplins. “Wonderfully resistant materials, it’s true, but not always the most inviting thing to sit on. Poltrona Frau has changed all that. In taking the time to understand the way people live and lounge, they’ve brought the living room into the garden, allowing us to sink into new rhythms and rituals.”
“Whether you’re indoors, outdoors, or somewhere in between, you want the full Gubi experience,” says Marie Schmidt. “This new collection delivers that with a carefully curated range of high-performance upholstery.”
The focus on fabric tech is key. In our own capricious climate, rainfall even in the summer months can be intense. And yet in including a special membrane interlayer, the wizards in the production department have managed to create a sofa that breathes, drying out quickly after a downpour, so you can easily sit in the clouds once more.
Pacha isn’t the only style to get an all-weather upgrade. Joining it in the Great Outdoors are new and extended items from both the Gascoin and Mategot lines. Rarely seen outside of the confines of museums, they are a beautiful double act — rich, stately thrones on which to soak up the sunset.
‘Suddenly it no longer appeared to be solid matter. It looked like a drop of crystallised water.”
‘It all began when Valerio Mazzei picked up a drop of pure polycarbonate that had been sitting on my desk,’ says the collection’s designer, Jacopo Foggini. ‘Suddenly it no longer appeared to be solid matter. It looked like a drop of crystallised water.”
“When combined with the glass, we found that the union between these two materials expressed the principles around which the entire collection plays: fluidity, transparency and the natural integration of the object with its environment.”
With its glittering rods and struts, it’s a collection that is constantly changing — as alive to its environment as the world that surrounds it.
The elasticity of each rod and strut also promises to take sitters by surprise. While sculptural in form, polycarbonate is able to deliver a truly unexpected level of comfort — a phenomenon that’s only emphasised should you choose to customise it with a body-moulding mattress.
In shedding the tried and tested formulas for all things al fresco, these three heritage brands open the door on a new era of outdoor living — swapping the rustic patio sets of old with the kind of solutions that allow aesthetes to experience the power of perfect design in every environment.