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At a recent Design Week I visited in London, there were a lot of pieces that piqued my interest, but it was the offering of outdoor furniture that really shone for me this year. Featuring a lot of FSC-certified teak - the material of the summer for outdoor furniture, and a focus on relaxing outdoors, this summer we're reclaiming our backyard spaces and turning them into extra areas for relaxation.
One common thread through many of the collections was that the best outdoor furniture offered a solution to a problem, and one piece in particular caught my eye. A double-sided bench. Double-sided furniture is particularly prevalent in the modern home at the moment, with sectional sofas that enable people to sit whatever direction they chose, using the furniture as a carving tool to split living rooms and in doing so, creating two brand new spaces either side of the sofa.
Outdoor furniture is replicating this in our backyards, with double-sided pieces offering seating facing two directions. It solves the problem of which way to point your furniture, meaning that you can enjoy the views of a garden one minute, and socialize in your outdoor space the next. And that's before we talk about chasing the sun with your outdoor furniture, without constantly rearranging your outdoor sun loungers.
Here are three pieces that are pioneering the trend.
1. This double-sided bench
One example of the trend towards double-sided furniture in residential backyards was this iteration of the Banco Bench, designed by Hugo Passo for the outdoor collection by Skagerak for Fritz Hansen. Available in two versions - a standard single-sided bench, still noteworthy for its elegant design, it's the double-facing design that impressed me.
Bringing new opportunities to outdoor living and reflecting our desire to live flexibly, it's a piece that enhances the experience of nature in full. 'Banco Bench by Hugo Passos introduces a new typology and expression to a classic piece of outdoor furniture,' says designer Hugo Passo.
'I wanted to make it as pleasant as possible for people to enjoy nature,' says Hugo. It also provides a solution to the question of whether your outdoor bench is facing the wrong way. 'The sun moves so the double bench can be used on either side and while seeking to design a backrest for comfort I also tried to achieve beauty.'
'The end result is somehow reminiscent of a Japanese daruma or edamame bean, bringing a sort of unexpected softness and dynamism to the strong straight lines of the long teak planks of the seat,' says Hugo.
2. This shape-shifting daybed
Arhaus has debuted 11 outdoor collections this summer, and what they have in common is a tendancy towards low profile and modular seating with easy-to-arrange combinations. The Ollie Collection in particular stuck out to me for its modular pieces that can be repositioned throughout the space, bringing out the best in everyday moments.
Featuring one backrest, two lumbar pillows, and one platform, the Ollie outdoor daybed can be rearranged as often as you’d like. Each craftsman-built frame is made from durable tube and cast aluminum, covered in premium InsideOut Performance Fabrics® to ensure longevity. Like many indoor pieces of this ilk, the backrest sits in the center, meaning two options for seating.
'So many people (myself included!) love daybeds because they're extra comfortable and have so many uses. Daybeds are built for lounging – perfect for an outdoor catnap, soaking up the sun, or catching up with friends! Plus there are so many stylish options nowadays,' says Maggie Gienger, director of interior design at Arhaus.
'Modular daybeds, like Ollie from Arhaus, are built to be adjusted, so you can place the backrest and pillows wherever you like, which means endless styling options and so much flexibility.'
'Opting for center cushioning presents a unique setup for two people to enjoy the daybed at once, while maintaining their own space. You'll be close enough to enjoy one another's company, but with enough space to do your own thing – read a book, listen to a podcast or simply enjoy the beautiful summer weather.'
3. This double sided chaise sofa
As part of Crate & Barrel's Dune collection, this chaise sofa exhibits the same priority for flexible outdoor living. Available in taupe, black or my personal favorite - black and white, the double chaise sofa has so much potential to be whatever you want it to be, adjusting to three different positions.
The piece can work as a daybed if you adjust the backs to have them horizontal and it can also work as a reclined chair with each side face to face for a spot of sunbathing. Come evening, it can flip up into a fully functioning sofa for three to sit on. A Crate and Barrel exclusive, the sofa is made with Sunbrella cushions so it is UV, fade, mold and stain-resistant.
A one-of-a-kind double-chaise sofa with adjustable backs for side by side or face to face relaxation. It also adjusts to be a full sofa or a day bed.
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For style leaders and design lovers.
Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.
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