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 The Growing Popularity of Outdoor Furniture: Insights from Industry Experts
[Sep 22,  2023]


Industry experts, including Jackie Hirschhaut of the International Casual Furnishings Association (ICFA), designer O¡¯Neal Crawford of Troy Rhone, and Michelle Larrabee-Martin of Kolo Collection, recently shared their insights on the outdoor furniture category at a panel discussion during Atlanta¡¯s Fall Market. With the pandemic driving people to seek refuge in their outdoor spaces, the demand for outdoor furniture continues to grow, particularly among Gen Z and Millennials.

According to ICFA research cited by Hirschhaut, over half of consumers are purchasing items for their outdoor spaces, with Gen Z and Millennials being the most active buyers at 72% and 77%, respectively. Gen Z also spends the most time in their outdoor spaces, with 55% spending 10 or more hours per week.

The ICFA found that consumers prioritize purchasing lighting (36%), shade products (27%), and fire pits, along with throw pillows, cushions and rugs (both at 26%) for their outdoor spaces.

The pandemic has also influenced the timing of outdoor furniture purchases. Crawford noted that due to long lead times during the pandemic, clients were encouraged to buy outdoor furniture and accessories at the beginning of the design project. This ensured that the furniture was ready to go once the construction was completed. Previously, clients would wait until construction was finished and then experience ¡°construction fatigue,¡± being less inclined to make additional purchases.

Flexibility in design is also crucial. Crawford emphasized the importance of creating designs that can accommodate various activities and group sizes. While clients may desire seating for large gatherings, such events only occur a few times a year. Creating adaptable designs allows spaces to be used effectively, whether it is for two people or a larger group.

When it comes to color, the panelists cautioned against potential mishaps. Beige furniture, for example, may appear bright white in outdoor spaces. Opting for warmer, darker tones can provide a more neutral look. Larrabee-Martin suggested adding brightly colored rugs and pillows instead, as these items are easier to swap out and are a great way to introduce color.

The experts also highlighted the importance of investing in high-quality outdoor furniture. Larrabee-Martin stressed that customers should avoid cheap, disposable options as they often fall apart within a year. Outdoor furniture should be seen as an investment that can withstand the test of time and the outdoor elements. ICFA research indicates that 26% of people prioritize higher quality furniture for their outdoor spaces.

In conclusion, the demand for outdoor furniture remains strong, driven by the desire for functional and stylish outdoor spaces. Understanding consumer preferences and considerations such as timing, flexibility in design, color choices, and the importance of quality investments is crucial for industry professionals.

Source:  Designers Today