A new crop of outdoor seating looks and feels good enough to take inside.
Dragging indoor furniture out to the patio for a soiree under the stars has become this summer's hot design move. Irreverent? Sure. Risky? Yes—sudden rain or a splash from the pool are constant threats. But asking your living room furniture to brave the outdoors is increasingly unnecessary. Imaginative, sophisticated, and practically indestructible, a new breed of all-weather furniture has sprung up to replace the generic metal mesh that has made the inside-out trend so urgent.
The evolution is visible in Brown Jordan's Architect sofa, with state-of-the art fabric that looks too sophisticated to be all-weather, couched in an imposing industrial grid of a frame.
Brown Jordan's recently introduced Architect line features an exposed metal frame (from $4,615; brownjordan.com).
These new designs are particularly welcome when it comes to outdoor dining: Whether you're serving a meal around a table or letting guests casually lounge with their plates, a place for everyone to sit is a basic requirement. But why should those seats have to look—and more discouraging yet, feel—so basic, too?
Lately, we've begun to see seating that is more stylish and better suited to the outdoors than anything you're harboring inside: chairs that are graceful and moveable (for gathering in circles or accommodating unexpected diners), sofas that are casual enough for daytime lounging and refined enough for evening affairs, seats of all kinds that are inviting to look at and occupy.
The Luna chair from Gloster makes no bones about its strong constitution, but stakes its appeal on style and comfort—its lightweight (and stackable) aluminum frame is topped with touchable teak, and its fabric-mesh seat supports an adult for hours.
Gloster's Luna series by Danish architect Povl Eskildsen is made of lightweight aluminum ($420; gloster.com).
The rugged materials and oversize scale of these pieces hold their ground in any environment. Their classic shapes, on the other hand, allow you to mix a traditional teak rocker, like the Avignon, reintroduced by Smith & Hawken's new owner, Target, with an object as edgy and versatile as the Nautilus Spot table.
Restoration Hardware's Majorca lounge chair takes a different tack: With its aluminum frame inside a chunky modern cube of chocolate-brown wicker, we're tempted to drag it inside the next time we entertain indoors.
Restoration Hardware's Majorca lounge chair offers substantial comfort ($895; restorationhardware.com)
Like Frank Gehry's Left Twist cube—a favorite of ours, now available in seven new colors—a small table like the Nautilus can add an interesting shape or dash of color, while doubling as an impromptu seat.
Frank Gehry for Heller's brightly colored cubes work well as garden stools or a place to kick up one's feet ($250; dwr.com)
Can Room & Board's recycled-plastic 405 chaise, an update on a basking platform from a Poconos resort, really live next to an upright chair like Lee Industries' slipcovered Sunset lounger—even if the slipcover can withstand the elements?
The name of Room & Board's 405 chaise playfully riff's on the opposite of lounging—being stuck in traffic on L.A.'s 405 freeway ($1,259; roomandboard.com)
You be the judge. But you can be sure that the next time your guests look around for a place to sit, they'll have something to look at.
Stylish enough for interiors but tough enough for the out-of-doors, Lee's Sunset lounger is clad in a crisp slipcover ($1,449;leeindustries.com)