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The last piece of the puzzle

Demand for outdoor furniture is booming in the region. COD takes a look at the role outdoor furnishings play in creating impressive exteriors.

The right choice of furniture completes the look of a location. (Kettal image)
The right choice of furniture completes the look of a location. (Kettal image)

Demand for outdoor furniture is booming in the region. COD takes a look at the role outdoor furnishings play in creating impressive exteriors.

The outdoor furniture market in the region is in strong shape at the moment powered by the double demand coming from the residential and the commercial sector. With the number of the hotels in the region rapidly growing, there is a steady demand for outdoor furniture for terraces, swimming pool areas, and other exterior spaces in hotels.

This is topped by a rise in requests for outdoor furnishings from the residential sector as more people start to invest in properties following a change in legislation facilitating the purchase of properties by foreigners.

Hotel clients are looking for materials or products that are easy to maintain, support hard wear and tear, and are easy to move around.

The right fit

When buying outdoor furniture for commercial purposes, a number of considerations need to be taken into account. How the furniture will be used is one of the most important.

"Hotel clients are looking for materials or products that are very easy to maintain, that support hard wear and tear, and that are easy to move around, particularly with pool furniture and restaurants," notes David Willis, managing director of outdoor product distributor Outdoor Concepts.

"The material that seems to live up to this, and that can withstand the conditions here and the sun, is manmade weaves, which tend to be used on a lot of furniture. It can be washed down after a sandstorm, is very practical, easy to maintain and is very light."

Outdoor furniture should always suit the purpose for which it was purchased. A dining set, for example, should have a large enough table for diners, while loungers and day beds near to a pool need to be comfortable. Furniture that will be used in parks, such as benches, on the other hand, needs to be robust and durable and is typically made from cast iron, with treated timber used for the seating area.

The right material

Selecting the right material is particularly important when it comes to choosing outdoor furniture, given the hot and humid climate in the summer months. UV stabilised synthetic wicker is perfectly suited to the Middle East, says Angela McGlinchey, general manager of Global Furniture Solutions, distributor of furniture brand Classique. "It's water resistant, mould resistant, fade resistant, easily washed and virtually maintenance free."

McGlinchey advises against investing in timber, however. "New timber furniture looks fantastic and is still a favourite with many residential purchasers, however to keep that look it has to be regularly and properly maintained. For commercial clients with hundreds of pieces of furniture, this can be a constant process all year round," she points out.

For a customer wanting a wooden look, teak is the best option, says Howard Barnett, joint managing director of furniture supplier Bridgman. "Teak will always be recognised as the finest of outdoor timbers because of the natural oils within the timber itself so it can withstand the movements of heat and cold and dryness and wet.


There is no other timber that can do that as well as teak," he says. Woven furniture rather than wooden furniture tends to be popular in the region due to its low maintenance factor, comments Barnett.

Considering colour is also important, given the harsh impact of the sun which lead to colour fading quicker than it would in other climates. "You've got to look for something that will withstand the climate, direct sunlight, so whichever material you use, it must have a very strong colour fastness so it won't lose its colour," notes Willis.

The right look

Selecting the right outdoor furniture involves not just looking at the functional requirements, but also weighing up and responding to aesthetic considerations, however.

As demand for outdoor furnishings grows, so has the trend for more designer-led outdoor furniture. Whereas once outdoor furnishings were almost something of an afterthought with large scale properties, purchased on the tail end of the budget, the look of the outdoor space is now given as much importance as the indoor space as top-tier hotels battle to differentiate themselves from one another.

"There is a definite trend towards more design-led outdoor furniture currently. Comfort and durability are still important but customers are now applying the same design aesthetics to the outdoor areas as they would to the internal decor," says Mark Sault, managing director of Parasol Garden Furniture, a regional supplier of outdoor furniture.

"In countries, such as the UAE where we enjoy a good climate for much of the year, customers are treating the exterior of a dwelling as an integral part of the residential space."

"There is a trend for relaxing, 'chill out' furniture," he says. "Functional furniture still plays its part; tables and chairs for dining will always be the backbone of any business but there is a definite move to supplementing these basics with one or two modern, edgy pieces."

On commercial projects, it is also important to make sure the furniture is complementary to the rest of the outdoor space and the general look or style of the building. A piece of furniture that looks stunning in the back garden of a villa won't necessarily work when in the grounds of a hotel.

On commercial projects, in particular, it is the small details that make the difference. The right piece of furniture not only adds to the overall impression of the outdoor space, but also the overall impression that a visitor has to a hotel or resort.

Like the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle, the right piece of furniture is all part of what makes the difference between a commercial exterior looking great as opposed to merely good.

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