The drive to take the indoors out is prevelant amongst designers who want to tap into the 2012 commercial market
Interior design is moving outdoors, with equal care being given to the look of the exterior of both residential and commercial properties. The importance of this section of commercial design is seen in the creation of the ‘Outdoor Living’ segment at the INDEX exhibition in Dubai.
Events are no longer found only inside ballrooms and banquet halls — with good weather in the UAE for half the year, it’s all too common to find people outdoors.
This means specified furniture and accessories need to be weatherproof, long-lasting and, at the same time, stylish. Some trends for this year include ottomans and modular pieces, thick weaves, usage of stone and marble, and green design, with rattan making a return to the scene.
With 15,505 new hotel rooms commissioned for 2012 in the UAE, the need for outdoor furniture and design is on the rise. For example, Hilton Worldwide plans to expand its presence in the Middle East by nearly 80% over the next three to four years.
UAE’s capital is not far behind — Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Authority said it expects to receive 2.7 million visitors by 2012, with Abu Dhabi Corniche, Emirates Heritage Village, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Marina Circuit featuring as key attractions.
Contracts are being awarded for outdoor design in the region. Gulf Landscape and Irrigation Systems LLC (GLIS), owned by Al Khayyat Investments, was awarded a Dhs33m contract to landscape Precinct 5 of the Mina Al Arab waterfront project in Ras Al Khaimah.
It will be responsible for the development of detailed designs, construction, completion, maintenance of roads and landscape works, including roadworks, street lights, hard and soft landscape, irrigation systems, landscape lights, street furniture, water features, swimming pools and play area equipment.
“We are proud to be chosen by RAK Properties to provide landscaping services to Mina Al Arab, a prestigious leisure and holiday beach resort.
“Such a project needs landscaping services of the highest standards and we are confident of meeting the requirements. We do believe that quality is driving this industry, in addition to cost effective pricing,” said Walid Al Wahsh, general manager, GLIS.
In a recent survey of outdoor living trends by the American Society of Landscape Architects, fireplaces/fire pits, dining areas, gas grills, and installed seating ranked high in popularity with professional landscape architects. Decorative water elements, such as ornamental pools and fountains, as well as outdoor recreation amenities, including pools and spas were also preferred.
According to Paul Toscana, owner and design director, Toscana Landscaping, in 2012, there is definitely a trend towards a minimalist design ethos that offers clean lines and a cool feel.
“The drive to take the indoors out is prevalent amongst many homeowners who are choosing to invest in gardens that become extensions of dining and living areas.
The advances in technology such as the availability of Wi-Fi and mobile technologies has led to a growing number of individuals who want to create alternative work and entertainment spaces that extend beyond the typical home office or living room,” added Toscana.
Jan van der Hagen, managing partner, Dedon, said in a still shaky global economy, the firm expects a continuous, but steady, development of the outdoor market similar to 2011.
According to him, one of the major changes last year in outdoor design has been the emergence of more premium indoor furniture brands in the outdoor segment. He added this development will continue in 2012.
“The involvement of renowned global luxury furniture brands, once and for all confirm that the outdoor market has a long-lasting relevance in the premium furniture business.
“One result of this is that we will surely see more refined design approaches. The achievements of the indoor market in terms of fabric quality and cushion comfort are being brought to the outdoors,” said van der Hagen.
With regards to business relationships, the firm expects clients and project partners to count on reliable partners and brands that manufacture products that last. “Sustainability is not only a matter of products but also of relationships,” he added.
“Afterall, the business is not about just furniture. People are creating an outdoor atmosphere nowadays: the outdoor living room, so to speak. Outdoor accessories like carpets, lighting and decoration articles such as vases are in high demand. Also, we expect a lot of colour – in tough times people need happiness in their lives,” he said.
Roland Corko, vice president sales, Sun and Shades, said the trends predicted for 2012 will roughly be similar to 2011. He said wooden furniture is still popular with clients, who want traditional kinds of design objects that feel more natural than others.
“While we do follow design trends, it’s important to innovate and create new items to be recognised and in public view. This year for example, we have around four or five new designs in our production line,” said Corko.
Minimalist designs will be seen this year, according to Corko, but stressed this doesn’t mean styles will be boring. A metal structure combined with weave is one upcoming trend, he added.
Firms have been kept busy with outdoor projects. In 2011, Toscana Landscaping worked on the design and beautification of a waste management site in Sharjah to show “even a landfill can look good”.
“We’ve always said Dedon is much more than an outdoor furniture company and never has it been truer than now,” said van der Hagen. The firm has been working on the Dedon Island resort on the Philippine island of Siargao.
“More than just a hotel, the island is a kind of laboratory for us — an outdoor living lab to bring our dreams of barefoot luxury to life. Created in collaboration with celebrated designers Jean-Marie Massaud and Daniel Pouzet, the villas, pavilions, pagodas and lounges dissolve the boundaries between indoors and out. It is the embodiment of our philosophy of outdoor living,” he added.
Sun and Shades has completed many projects in UAE including the Park Towers for DAMAC and Westin Dubai.
“The most important thing for us is that we are constantly developing our production and we are coming up with new things all the time,” added Corko.