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After the pandemic, Italian design celebrates the return to nature

>>A house revisited by Italian design
>>After the COVID-19 pandemic, Milan once again becomes the mecca of design

Visitors in front of Italian company Annibale Colombo’s outdoor collection at the Milan Furniture Fair on June 8.

Photo: AFP/VNA/CVN

Durable and precious woods, recyclable aluminium, pastel or natural colours, noble materials, rounded or refined shapes… Garden furniture is upmarket. Gone are the dull and rough plastics, replaced by more fluid fabrics.

“The boundaries between inside and outside are now totally erased, a process already underway that has experienced an incredible acceleration in the last two years”comments Maria Porro, President of the Furniture Fair.

Outdoor enthusiasts “are looking for the same comfort on the outside that they are used to on the inside, and textiles that are as pleasant to the touch, softer, more flexible and less technological” than in the past, she notes.

holiday tune

Lounge chairs with canopy from the Atmosphera brand at the Milan Furniture Fair on June 8.

Photo: AFP/VNA/CVN

A holiday air wafts over the stands displaying garden furniture in lush vegetation settings combining trees, exotic plants and synthetic turf. Visitors slump on deckchairs, test the armchairs and touch the fabrics.

“There is a boom in sales of outdoor furniture”which occurred in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, assures Davide Gallo, export sales director of the Italian company Atmosphera.

“People realized that the safest place to invite friends was at home. Instead of going on vacation, they invested in outdoor furniture”he observes.

As a result, the share of outdoor furniture in the turnover of this high-end furniture manufacturer has increased in two years from 50% to 60%.

Not far from the Atmosphera stand, the luxury furniture company Annibale Colombo, founded in 1812 in the Brianza Valley in northern Italy, offers a sofa, armchair and chaise longue collection for both the interior and exterior.

“Many customers buy expensive apartments in the city, with covered terraces, so they can choose between the two versions, indoor and outdoor”argues its CEO, Luciano Colombo.

The only difference is the choice of fabrics and woods. Teak now “not found” according to him due to a shortage that is affecting the entire sector, and iroko wood, very resistant to the sun, rain and cold, is used on the exterior and canaletto walnut on the interior.

The garden, one more room

An outdoor shower by Italian brand Gessi on display at the Milan Furniture Fair on June 8.

Photo: AFP/VNA/CVN

“By dint of being confined at home during the pandemic, we have all longed to reconnect with nature, hence the rush for outdoor furniture”testifies Martina Terragni, interior designer at Flou.

This manufacturer, also based in the Brianza Valley, nicknamed “the Silicon Valley” of furniture, had to increase production, but delivery times became longer with the lack of raw materials, going from five to nine. weeks on average.

The search for fresh air and sunshine has led many households to make outdoor spaces an extension of their homes, an extra room to gain valuable square meters. With the pandemic, they have learned to live outside.

“Our customers want to telecommute outdoors, on the balcony, the terrace, the rooftop or in the garden”explains Rafaela Marelli, communication director of another company based in Brianza, Flexform, whose stand is always full.

The large garden tables or small occasional consoles are, according to her, regularly transformed into offices. Even if the reflection of the sun on the computer could somewhat disturb the idyll of work in the green spaces.

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