Tips & Insights All Eyes On Outside Consumer demand fuels increased industry focus on the outdoor room Afterthought. Low priority. A luxury. Such were the sentiments of many regarding outdoor spaces pre-COVID. But as spring dawns in 2021 amidst a global pandemic, a new era is emerging for outdoor furnishings. Essential. Year-round. Top of the list. And the industry is responding. “We are getting more and more requests for design assistance with the ‘outdoor room’,” shared the design team at Allen & James Interior Design. “People want it to be an extension of their home and personality.” To find that just-right fit, the Allen & James team sources from a full range of High Point Market exhibitors, noting “We love Summer Classics, Sunbrella, Barlow Tyrie, Kingsley Bate, and Woodard. Each line provides the quality and variety we look for when designing an outdoor space.” Summer Classics Barlow Tyrie Kingsley Bate Woodard Designer Cheryl Luckett comments, “Spending more time at home has increased the need to expand our living spaces beyond the four interior walls.” The latest research agrees, as designer Stacy Garcia notes, “According to Pinterest, searches for outdoor kitchens and bars were up 2795% in 2020 and outdoor play areas were up 550%. We’ve seen the trends over and over… Garden rooms, granny pods, outdoor entertaining, bird watching… you name it… all trending. Outdoor living is front & center.” Garcia lists Currey & Company, Inc, and Surya among her High Point favorites for outdoor sourcing. Currey and Co Surya The 2021 Trend Report recently released by the International Casual Furnishings Association sees consumer interest continuing this year. Their survey found that 90% of Americans agree their outdoor living space is more valuable than ever before. An online survey to 1,000 nationally representative adults ages 18+ between January 4 and 8, 2021 - conducted on behalf of the International Casual Furnishings Association (ICFA) and American Home Furnishings Alliance (HFA) by Wakefield Research ICFA / HFA survey ICFA / HFA survey “In normal times, outdoor spaces are areas of recreation for ourselves and our families, yet today we need them for the restoration of our bodies and minds,” said Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of the American Home Furnishings Alliance and executive director of its outdoor division, the International Casual Furnishings Association. Fortunately for both designers and consumers, manufacturers are also embracing the outdoor opportunities. “The outdoor furniture options of yesteryear pale in comparison to what's on the market today. No matter your style, size of your space, climate or the level of exposure to the elements, today's options offer something for everyone,” says Luckett. “Some outdoor furniture is now constructed as well as traditional indoor furniture. The innovation in this space has been pretty amazing to watch.” Her top-of-list outdoor sources include Kenian, Braxton Culler, Inc., and Bernhardt Furniture Company Kenian Braxton Culler Bernhardt Designer Katherine Wozniak is celebrating what she deems “an outdoor design revolution”. “The current innovations in comfort, durability, style and practicality have really changed the game for designers. With the furniture and materials now available to us, we can blur the lines between indoor and outdoor rooms, and create the best of both worlds.” Looking ahead, sourcing options appear to be on the rise as well. Universal Furniture launched an outdoor collection this past October with Coastal Living. The same publication is slated to launch an outdoor lighting collection with Regina Andrew Design at the upcoming Spring Market. Universal Regina Andrew Opportunistic timing, it seems, as Luckett expresses, “I’d love to see an increase in the options in the outdoor lighting category,” and Wozniak adds, “We’re always looking for ambient outdoor lighting options that are not hard wired.” Also on tap for this June is a new program from the Market Authority. Titled Design Oasis, it offers a great opportunity to experience new ideas in the outdoor room. Just swing by Center Stage, the outdoor area between the Transportation Terminal and Showplace, to explore spaces designed by Allen & James, Stacy Garcia, Cheryl Luckett, and Katherine Wozniak. All products will be sourced from High Point exhibitors. You can take a few moments to relax, meet the designers, and even enjoy lunch from one of the nearby food trucks.