Nobody created outdoor living spaces quite like the architects and designers of the mid-century. And perhaps that’s why, over 50 years later, the world’s leading designers continue to draw upon this era for inspiration. From reissues and redesigns to mid-century-inspired pieces, this year’s trade shows have been awash with outdoor furniture that wouldn’t look out of place poolside at a Californian Case Study house. Marrying traditional craftsmanship with new, engineered materials and technologies, these beautifully crafted pieces perfectly blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living.
1. One of the most iconic mid-century design series, the Saarinen Dining Tables and Saarinen Low Tables had a makeover this year when manufacturers Knoll introduced the first-ever outdoor adaption. Finished with a durable acrylic top, the 1956 classic is now tough enough to withstand the elements.
2. Similarly, Spanish brand Kettal has brought back the Basket chair—a low-slung wicker lounge chair that was created by esteemed Danish designers Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel in the 1950s. As well as launching the original award-winning version with its hand-braided wicker bowl seat and light oak frame, Kettal have switched up the materials to make the first ever, outdoor interpretation in artificial fibre and teak.
3. It was Danish mid-century pieces such as this that Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen and Kasper Rønn of Norm Architects had in mind when they created their debut furniture line for Design Within Reach. Launched earlier this year and comprising nine items spanning seats, tables and ottomans, the Finn Collection pays homage to the designers’ Danish heritage. “We wanted to create a collection that is as elegant as the classic Danish mid-century furniture but with a combination of materials that makes it robust and durable and suited for outdoor use,” explains Bjerre-Poulsen. Topped with comfortable Sunbrella seat cushions, the loungers and chairs are made from durable Serge Ferrari mesh wrapped around cantilevered, stainless steel rods that appear to serenely float above their solid teak frames.
4. Using Iroko and nautical rope, German designer Sebastian Herkner created a collection of outdoor seating and tables inspired by the groundbreaking work of Swiss architect Pierre Jeanneret in India during the 1950s. “I was inspired by the authentic and simple design of the furniture he did for the development of Chandigarh,” explains Herkner, who designed the pieces for Italian brand Gervasoni’s contract and hospitality division, Very Wood. “Unam is based on the idea to work with wood- solid wood to create something strong and beautifully crafted. Using traditional craftsmanship as well as new technologies, Unam presents my attitude of design.” The Unam lounge chair fuses traditional weaving and joinery techniques with a distinctly modern composition.
5. Moving on a decade, French brand Fermob’s Sixties collection by Frédéric Sofia is a line of woven indoor-outdoor pieces that, as the name suggests, recall the experimental and laid-back attitude of the 1960s. The bench, low armchair and low table introduced in 2010, have quickly become one of the brand’s bestselling ranges, and so this year, the collection was extended further with the addition of a side chair. Like the low armchair, the side chair has a seat made from crisscrossing resin cord woven around a curvaceous aluminum tube frame that’s finished with an anti-UV powder coating.