Showing the Great Outdoors: Casual Furniture Market | wrap
October 11, 2011,
The outdoor furniture industry converged on Chicago's Merchandise Mart last month for the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market with a singular purpose: to take advantage of the continuing consumer trend to take the inside outdoors. Exhibitors responded with new showrooms, more motion furniture, plenty of firepits, and in some cases, lower priced collections. Here are some of the highlights of the show.-Duke Ratliff
A highlight in the Pride Family Brands showroom was The Lucerne Collection, shown here, a hand-crafted, wrought-aluminum set with slender curves and curling elements incorporated into a casual, yet luxurious look.
"The popularity of the wrought-aluminum construction continues to grow with retailers and consumers," said Jamie Lowsky, CEO of Pride Family Brands. "Each year our designers strive to create unique looks that span traditional to transitional motifs. With its casual and free-flowing elements, Lucerne's attraction is not only in its price point, but the overall design as well."
Wrought aluminum taking on curves and curls make up the back and arm elements of The Lucerne Collection. Oversized, weather resistant cushions put the finishing touch on the design. Pride's powder coat finishing and hand applied decorative antiquing is featured on all units.
"Our retail partners have encouraged our design team to add more wrought-aluminum designs," said Rory Rehmert, vice president of sales and marketing for Pride Family Brands. "The wrought-aluminum process enables cost-efficient manufacturing and allows us to provide price point alternatives to fit all segments of today's consumers."
Pride Family Brands also added firepits to its lineup. "There's no better place than to sit outside," Lowsky said, "and people want to extend the season." pridefamilybrands.com
Agio added to its deep offerings with Balmoral, a combination of dining, deep seating and ambiance all in one.
Balmoral, shown here, is an Alumicast set with an English garden look centered around a Celtic quatrefoil design, combined with a porcelain top table with copper accents. Seating selections include a stationary spring rocker or swivel spring rocker.
"Of those new collections debuted, Balmoral and Classique were probably the two sets that received the most buzz," said Doug Peppler, Agio's vice president of sales. "Like our other big producers recently, Balmoral and Classique are big collections with lots of pieces in them."
Balmoral is also offered as a five-piece firepit chat group with a gas firepit.
"[Firepits] is a category that's here to stay," the company said. "Consumers are seeing the outdoor setting as more than just dining. They are extending their evening with chat groups in general and firepits in particular. Fire elements rank as number two on consumer's wish list for outdoor rooms." agio-usa.com
OW Lee's new Tamarack Collection, shown here, inspired by Mission-style furniture, is designed to reflect an organic, yet refined, look. A 100 percent aluminum frame allows this collection to be enjoyed year round and in any climate. The large scale, deep-seating pieces feature plush, deep-set cushions.
Tamarack incorporates rounded edge tubing to the lines for a softer, more luxurious look and feel and a sense of authenticity to the style. Tamarack is made from 12-gauge square and rectangular aluminum tubing, and vertical back tubing is curved for maximum comfort. The Tamarack collection offers a club chair, swivel rocker club chair, ottoman, chaise lounge and two-seat and three-seat sofas.
"This is a timeless design that can finally be enjoyed in the great outdoors," said Paul Rogers, creator of the Tamarack collection for OW Lee Co. "The durable aluminum frame is the perfect medium for this bold and beautiful collection."
OW Lee manufactures products in Ontario, Calif., and it is one of the few remaining companies in the casual furniture industry that still manufactures in the U.S.A. owlee.com
Named after Frank Lloyd Wright's birthplace, Richland Center, Wisc., Telescope Casual's Richland Cushion Collection, as shown here, reflects the style of the famous architect.
"Richland is inspired by the Arts & Crafts style," said Greta Cosey, Telescope Casual's public relations manager. "It has very straight lines. We've made a move toward transitional at this show."
The collection is constructed of Marine Grade Polymer and is available in an array of cushion fabrics. The frame has added weight so it won't blow away in the wind. The cushions feature vertical fiber and reticulated foam to allow water to drain through, allowing for faster drying time so they don't break down over time.
Telescope Casual also emphasized motion items, including rockers, at the show. "As we're bringing the indoors outside, consumers are expecting more," Cosey said. "It's really evolving." The company also added a collection of less-expensive director's chairs, along with a dining table to match. telescopecasual.com
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