Hot stuff

On the grounds of the Parc D’Expostions de Paris-Nord Villepinte, home to Maison & Objet, you could spot the Parisians among us. Though the temperature hovered around 27C, these chic specimens — dandies in blazers and scarves, gamines in long-sleeved frocks — were already rocking the fall fashions, this being September. They appeared effortlessly cool, of course. I, on the other hand, already sweltering in my summer clothes, felt faint from the sight of all that wool.

And so it was a relief to get out of the hot sun and into Hall 7, home to Maison & Objet’s September show-within-a-show, Outdoor_Indoor. Hall 8, I mean, since a brand-new hall — proof that all is well with M&O — has usurped its number. (Also making its debut this year was a Centre for Excellence.) All was familiar, as this was my third visit to Europe’s biggest show of outdoor furniture and accessories.

Third time’s the charm, as they say: Outdoor_Indoor ’10 was outstanding, with a staggering number of introductions on display — from firms both familiar (B&B Italia Outdoor, Fermob, Emu) and fresh (Indera, Hive, At-once). I had a tough time whittling my down choices to 15. It’s a marvel what can be done these days with the “poly”s (polyester, polymer, polyethylene and polypropylene), metal and weather-resistant fabric (wood seemed old-fashioned). This is outdoor furniture as art.


B&B Italia Outdoor has added Antonio Citterio to its roster of well-known designers. Thirteen years after its debut in the regular B&B Italia collection, Citterio’s Charles sofa system — one of the company’s longtime bestsellers — has been introduced in a new outdoor version. Featuring the same slim aluminum frame, Charles has a surface created by open-weave polyester bands. The range of sofas, terminal elements and chaise longue pieces, made up of nine elements of various styles and sizes, expands with a small armchair and a reclining cot. The three sizes of back cushions can mirror the neutral shade of the frame or come in brilliant colours.


With Sixties, created by Frdric Sofia, French firm Fermob brings a new fabric — woven polymer — into the fold. Over its structure of painted aluminum, the armchair features a light, airy and stylishly patterned weave of high-density technical resin in a contrasting colour. Accompanying the armchair is a curvy, compact table, available in all 24 luscious shades of the Fermob colour chart.


Sixty-year-old Italian company Emu has developed Shalimar with the firm Chiaramonte/Marin. Made of metal sheeting using modern techniques, the fanciful collection — consisting of a low table, armchair, sofa and partition — was inspired by Moroccan wrought-iron works of art. A wide choice of large cushions is available.


Faz is a serene and sculptural outdoor collection designed by architect Ramn Esteve for the Spanish company Vondom. It comprises a sun lounger with auxiliary table, armchair, modular sofa and coffee table, plus three flowerpots of different proportions forming a unit. High-quality nautical or polyester cushions are also available.


Emu’s colourful Arc En Ciel collection updates the classic metal bistro set for small urban patios and balconies. The lightweight table is rectangular rather than square; the equally light folding chairs are easy to use and transport.


Born in the Philippines, Kenneth Cobonpue is known for his signature designs in natural fibres and materials. Hugo, his outdoor lounge set — including a sofa, armchair and coffee table — takes its inspiration from crochet. Frames are of double powdercoated steel; over top, two different shades of recyclable polyethylene fibres create a shadowing effect. Hugo’s bolstered arms convey a sense of homey embrace. Sunbrella cushion covers add warmth.


Fermob’s Biarritz table has a trick up its streamlined aluminum sleeve: it can expand from 6 feet to 10 feet in just a few moments, thanks to its two side extensions. Biarritz is light, sturdy and easy to move.


B by Indera is a new affordable luxury range from the Belgian company; ”no frills” versions of Indera’s designs allow for standardized production, keeping the costs down. For this new range, Studio Segers has designed Lis, a no-nonsense lounge set suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Comfortable and durable, Lis features highly weather-resistant material (standard or leatherlook), which is removable and washable.


Gee, that’s Swell — and by Swell I mean a new outdoor collection by Karim Rashid for Italian firm Talenti. Inspired by the “sweet caress of a wave,” the curvy, retro-futuristic Swell comprises a living set (sofa, armchair and coffee table) and a dining set (table and chairs). All items are made of metallic tube and expanded metal lath. Chairs are stackable.


Young French firm At-once has introduced the generous Glorify chair for use indoor and out (high armrests are guaranteed to make the user feel royal). Made of polyethylene and 100 per cent recyclable, Glory is available in seven colours.


The Bux pouf from Dutch Summer was inspired by the boxwood shrub. The plastic “vase” comes in white, black and terracotta; the upholstered pillow is available in various colours and finishes.


Designed by Brad Stebbing for Philippines-based Hive, the Bud outdoor hanging lamp offers a warm light created by its laminated fiberglass diffuser within a collapsible series of polyethylene strips. It comes in standard and long sizes, in natural, red or green.


For Dedon, prolific Philippe Starck has designed Play, a lightweight, durable and stackable chair with a molded polypropylene and fiberglass frame. Various covering materials are offered, including solid teak, mirror-finish aluminum and hand-woven synthetic fibre. Mix-and-match colours include chalk, carbon, stone, terracotta and bronze.


Bacsac is a flexible, weightless and portable plant container — for both indoors and outdoors — made of a double-walled geotextile fabric. Resistant to both frost and sun, it comes in various shapes, sizes and configurations.