Outdoor furniture has changed in the last ten years: it is softer, more sober, closer to an interior feel. Just like us, ever more interested in taking care of things as well as ourselves

* Enrico Fratesi, co-founder of GamFratesi, design studio opened in 2006 in Copenhagen with Stine Gam

You can notice it everywhere: we spend more time outdoors and pay more attention to the external spaces of our homes than we ever did before. In the era of climate change and of the environmental crisis, the passion for gardens, terraces and balconies has become a global phenomenon. And spending time in the exteriors of our homes – all year round, regardless of weather and temperature – is a universal pleasure that we began to appreciate long before the pandemic. And which has now literally exploded.

Did we change or did furniture? Like in a chicken and egg situation, I think it all happened together.

We changed when we realized that nature, even when it is a patch of land or a few meters of balcony, has a feel good effect on us.  And  furnishings have changed when, thanks to the development of increasingly performing materials, it has been possible to give a new look and feel to collections that were previously designed to withstand any weather trauma rather than to please us.

When we opened our studio, more than a decade ago, outdoor solutions had a heroic, testosterone-fueled feel. It was a world made of objects that were ready to defy the elements. Disruptive personalities, as large as life, clearly indicating that an outdoor space was a luxury for the wealthy few.

Today, brands have realized that the passion for the outdoors is such that people are ready to pay the price of taking care of their outdoor furniture in exchange for gentler, more welcoming shapes made with softer materials – for the patio, let's say, but not really to withstand rain, wind and sun. They must be moved, put back in place, kept carefully: and for outdoor enthusiasts that's okay.

Another truth that is now clear to everyone – especially today, in the pandemic era – is that being outdoors should not be a luxury. Hence, this revolution in materials and shapes was also followed closely by that on dimensions: today they tend to be more intimate, functional (think of all the folding ones), perfect for balconies and gardens.

The refinement of interiors is therefore now also happening in our gardens and balconies. And it is important to consider this step as a global cultural change destined to evolve towards an ever greater democratization of outdoor spaces: which from privilege are becoming everyone's right.


Cover photo: Harlan + Holden Glasshouse Café designed by GamFratesi in Manila, Philippines. The concept of the restaurant with fig trees takes inspiration from a greenhouse, emphasizing the relationship of continuity with the outside.