There are several halls dedicated to outdoor living at trade show spoga+gafa, based in Cologne, Germany, and the 2017 event had rows and rows of exhibitors showcasing loungers, couches, chairs, hammocks and more. Frank A. Reinhardt, a trend researcher based in Germany, helped attendees put it all into perspective during a tour at the show, and highlighted trends in outdoor furniture. Here are five major takeaways for garden center retailers to note in 2018:
1. The garden has evolved and become the second living room.
To meet this demand, the quality of patio furniture has improved, and many manufacturers are using multiple materials and designing pieces to look more like what’s found in living and family rooms. During the tour, we saw furniture made of wicker-like, weather-resistant material, Mid-century Modern inspiration, indoor/outdoor rugs and ergonomic designs for maximum comfort. Customers will want products that can help them create cozy, outdoor retreats this spring, complete with rugs, lamps and accessories that can withstand the elements and look good doing it. Several garden centers market their products well, using them to create complete outdoor vignettes to stimulate ideas for customers, including Gethsemane Garden Center in Chicago, which has mastered inspirational garden displays. People want outdoor living spaces, whether they have a vast suburban backyard or a tiny apartment balcony. Furniture designed for small spaces (and with multiple functions) is still in demand, too.
2. Green and gray are dominant colors.
These two colors dominated the halls, whether the vendor was selling patio furniture or plastic pots. Exhibits with gray couches and chairs, colorful throw pillows and green foliage become ubiquitous. Reinhardt noted this as well during the tour, adding that gray is dominating as a basic hue and there is a resurgence of using green as a design color.
3. Hammocks are having a moment, and they are available in many shapes, sizes and colors.
Two sturdy trees aren’t necessary to suspend these hanging chairs, which were everywhere at spoga+gafa.
4. People are building outdoor spaces with fire pits, fireplaces or fire tables in mind.
Whether the fire pit is built into the lawn and surrounded by Adirondack chairs or the flames are centered in the middle of a table, more people want the campfire experience in their backyards. Look to Warren’s Southern Gardens in Houston’s landscaping division for inspiration, as it specializes in fire pits, offering custom designs and a star-shaped pit to pay homage to its home of Texas.
5. Outdoor cooking is big and going beyond the grill.
An entire hall was dedicated to outdoor kitchens at the 2017 show, and according to a handful of exhibitors there, the trend is more established in the U.S. than in Europe. People are looking for second living rooms and second kitchens for a full al fresco experience. For most homeowners who don’t have the means to build outdoor kitchens, grills are a popular option, and whatever the cooking canvas, more people are interested in creating restaurant-quality, healthy dishes outside on their home patio or deck.