Within the living area, a clear hierarchy has prevailed: furniture pieces are luxurious and soft. Their garden equivalents, however, used to be firm, humble benches and chairs – or, the epitome of horror: that white, wipe-able Monobloc plastic chair, available for a few euros at the garden centre. But, fortunately, an enormous change has taken place. An increasing number of manufacturers are furnishing the outdoor space with design pieces that are absolutely not inferior. On the contrary, both garden and terrace are understood to be a fully-fledged extension of the living room out into the open air. It is therefore evident that the furnishings must be of the same standard. What’s more, the furniture can express a creative freedom that cannot find its way into the current mid-century-oriented living room – in regard to its dimensions and design language.

To mark the departure of the unspeakable Monobloc, a rather unusual piece of exterior furniture has come into focus: a real sofa. The manufacturers have put a lot of know-how into producing a weather-resistant adaptation of this piece. At first glance, the upholstered BRIXX series by DEDON cannot be recognised as garden furniture at all. The seating programme, designed by Lorenza Bozzoli, transfers the look and comfort of interior sofas straight onto the patio. The reason for this is an active weather-resistant upholstery that breathes, as well as a specially developed fabric collection, reconciling pleasant haptics with sensual candy colours and water-repellent properties. The modular design of the system also allows for a variety of configurations.

Dedon Brixx Mood
Voluminous armchairs are indispensable in unequivocally clarifying the expansion of the living space into the garden or onto the terrace. The chair becomes both throne and nest at the same time: a protective capsule to lean against. London-based design studio Doshi Levien has created an impressive specimen, the Cala armchair, for Spanish manufacturer Kettal. The high back is accentuated by loose, open wickerwork, and is available in a variety of different colours. Patricia Urquiola's outdoor version of the Husk chair for Moroso also works as a temporary retreat, with its towering, colourful backrest.

Dutch designer-duo Scholten & Baijings revealed subtle op-art-effects with their outdoor chair 13Eighty for Hay. The seat shell is perforated by innumerable holes that pierce the plastic slightly obliquely to help water drain off, creating a tactile surface structure that achieves a dynamic effect with the varying viewing angle. The design shows that injection-moulded seat shells have not yet gone away – their surface structure has only had to become more refined in order to rehabilitate this as a viable production method.

Dedon Brixx Mood
An orientation towards the ground can be observed at Hermès. For the first time, the French luxury house is expanding into outdoor furnishings this summer with a collection of weather-proof fabrics, which mainly materialise in the form of poufs and mats. Geometric patterns show a subtle 1960s appeal and are combined with atmospheric colours, creating a particularly impressive effect as an ensemble. Also, the foam-padded Nomad poufs that Monica Armani designed for Belgian manufacturer Tribù, create a playful effect. Available in 70 different colours, the round-shaped pieces get you thinking of huge sweets.

Vincent van Duysen focuses on clear, purist shapes with his Portofino table for Paola Lenti. The outdoor furniture piece comes with a table top of black lava-stone tiles, combining a pleasant feel with a somewhat irregular look. Elegance is provided by a filigree frame made of black Robinia wood, which is protected from wind and weather by a transparent layer of acrylic. New items for the garden have also been revealed by Sebastian Herkner. The Offenbach-based designer continues his collaboration with German-Columbian manufacturer Ames. The side tables and armchairs from the Caribe series combine coloured wickerwork with round metal structures, adding a trace of exotic spiciness.

Ames Sala, Caribe basket, Table Barro mini. Photo: Andres Valbuena
Ames Sala, Caribe Chair. Photo: Andres Valbuena
To complete the expansion of the living space into the outdoors, another object is indispensable: a fully-fledged, garden-specific kitchen that replaces the traditional grill. At imm cologne this year, German manufacturer Kaufmann presented Block, designed by Sebastian Herkner. A deep, industrial sink made of ceramic or stainless steel provides space. Open and closed wooden boxes are used to store ingredients and utensils, and these can be easily moved and transported using a single handle. The striking back walls of the kitchen system are lined with larch-wood planks, giving the kitchen a clean look from the back and at the same time reflecting the aesthetics of a classic backyard fence. The message is clearly defined: the design update of outdoor pieces is still far from complete – it’s only just beginning to accelerate.

Moroso Husk, Outdoor version
Portofino, Paola Lenti
Hermes, Sable
Tribu, Nomad Garden Pouf