There have been many unintended consequences from the last long and languid year. The first, and easily most wholesome, was that we as a nation rediscovered how to roam. The experts in this field are, of course, the Scandinavians, for whom roaming is considered a cultural birthright. There is even a corresponding word for the emotions and activities it inspires: friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv). A wonderfully expansive idea, it speaks to the joy of alfresco living, and how there is no right or wrong season for outdoor adventures. Rather, with the correct attitude (and a couple of thoughtfully crafted accessories) we can answer the call of the wild all year long.
“The core of Friluftsliv is about creating an active lifestyle and taking advantage of the gems that are already present outside,” explains Mats Broeberg, Creative Director of Swedish brand, Röshults.
“Too often, we shy away away from fully utilising our outdoor spaces, when really they can be soulful places to gather.”
Broeberg is somewhat of an expert in getting people to spend time more in nature. In 2017, he was appointed Creative Director at Röshults, a company committed to creating beautiful alfresco furnishings. Given how sparse and scarce daylight can be in his part of the world, there was no shortage of naysayers. And yet, he found that people didn’t need much persuasion to get outdoors with those they love. Rather, they just needed the right sort of weather-hardy equipment. Cue the emergence of state-of-the-art barbecue grills and fire baskets, each designed to bring light and life to the chilly Swedish landscape.
"Too often, we shy away from fully utilising our outdoors spaces, when really they can be soulful places to gather."
It’s an idea that’s been further underscored by the pandemic. With many of indoor haunts off-limits, outdoor spaces have gone from overlooked peripheries to the heart of our stay-at-home social lives. And so the focus once more is on how we can facilitate a seamless experience of indoor/outdoor living — especially when temperatures get chilly.
When it comes to the actual roaming, designs that allow for spontaneity tend to come out on top. Today’s sartorial nomads can count on gorgeous portable lanterns, the best of which double as powerful sound systems. Affectionately referred to as contemporary candles, they are perfect for those looking to chase down a sunset or sit outside talking into the small hours.
For many, the key to successfully adopting friluftsliv during winter and spring lies in creating a sense of warmth in the outdoor environment. In some ways, it can be understood as a continuation of Hygge, with outdoor rugs, blankets and fire pits becoming a mainstay of the alfresco space.
That said, it’s important to state that you’re not looking to insulate yourself entirely from nature, merely take the edge off some of its harsher elements in order to enjoy the outdoors more fully. For designers like Broeberg, this is where materials come in.
“At Roshults, we believe in using carefully selected materials with distinctive, simple shapes, that let life be the centrepiece.”
The return of living textures like wicker and rattan has been particularly telling — with many brands looking to create a lightweight, bohemian feeling indoors or out.
Experts in teak furniture, Gloster, have described it as creating furnishings that complement rather than control the landscape. An idea that’s shared by designers at Made in Italy brands like B&B Italia and Cassina. Philippe Starck’s Fenc E Nature uses natural untreated willow as a commercial material for the very first time, reinforcing a sense of connection with the outdoor world.
“With the Fenc-e Nature, I created something between daily DIY and Duchamp’s Ready Made. It doesn’t seem to come out of a factory, and brings humanity, charm, poetry, creativity and Nature to your home.”
Fundamentally, Friluftsliv recognises that we will each respond differently to the desire to get back to nature. And whether it’s creating a quiet nook in a suburban garden or getting out to the Lake District for a weekend camping trip, there are a million ways to do it.
If you’re already looking forward to the promise of spring, then be sure to check out our dedicated garden department, where you’ll find a variety of new ideas for how to make life alfresco that little bit more luxurious.