Published December 13, 2008

All the rage

AS homeowners grow increasingly house-proud, every bit of floor space counts.

Outdoor furniture these days are made of synthetic fibres that are not just waterproof but also UV resistant. Above, Tribu dining set sold at XTRA

Gone are the days where outdoor space was dotted only with plants and perhaps a few plastic or wooden chairs. Instead, think big, sleek designer chaise lounges, sofas, tables and even coordinated plant holders - a trend, industry players say, that only picked up no more than three years ago.

'You can tell that this is a growing trend because all the big designer furniture companies are jumping on the outdoor furniture bandwagon,' remarks XTRA's founder Lim Choon Hong who cited D&D as an example of one established furniture brand that only recently launched an outdoor furniture line. 'Plus, at this year's Milan furniture fair, I also noticed that the ones that got the most attention were not the indoor furniture brands but the outdoor furniture brands!'

But why the sudden influx of outdoor furniture lines? The answer is simple, say industry players: because there is a demand for it. 'When people buy houses now, they want every bit of their house or even apartment to look good,' points out Massimmo's founder Henry Ng who just brought in a new outdoor range called Verander last month.

'So many of my clients are apartment owners who realise that balcony space is still floor space that they've paid for so it makes more sense to put effort into making it look good rather than use it as a place to dry your washing.'

Proof Living's director of operations Yung Ong adds that the rise in popularity of outdoor furniture with consumers is also because they have more choices when it comes to materials and colours these days. 'In the past, home owners were limited to furniture made of wood like teak that cannot withstand attacks from the sun or rain so they either discolour or rot very fast, not very conducive for sales,' he says.

'But now, with synthetic fibres, you can get very natural looking furniture in an array of colours that are not just waterproof but also UV resistant so they look the same even after five to 10 years so people are more inclined to buy them.

'One of the brands that we carry called Paola Lenti has even developed a way that allows their sofa cushions to drain water naturally which makes everything more convenient, not to mention more comfortable.'

He adds that now that synthetic fibres are commonplace in the market, the next big thing would be colour.

'Expect to see a bright array of colours hitting the outdoor furniture market,' concludes Mr Ong. ' It's no longer just going to be blacks, whites and brown but bright reds and oranges as well.

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Kenneth Cobonpue armchair (above) and Paola Lenti sofa set (next photo) both sold at Proof Living