Outdoor furniture: sustainability's the heart of new collections


Scavolini, Formalia Outdoor, photo courtesy

From Parisian garden-inspired seating to the first modular outdoor kitchen: garden furniture and natural, recycled or recyclable materials are increasingly closely and productively linked

Green begats green… One of the Salone del Mobile’s biggest trends this year was dedicated outdoor furniture made from sustainable materials. International industry estimates predict the global outdoor furniture market will build on its impressive sales figures since the start of the pandemic and grow by 5.3 percent annually between 2021 and 2028, from a value of $46.21 billion last year to $66.55 billion in 2028. Equally significant (if not greater) is companies’ and consumers’ growing focus on sustainable furniture manufacturing.

In these green-aware times, people are increasingly keen to live in homes with an outdoor space. Two years after the first lockdown, web searches on major portals show persistent interest in homes with a garden or terrace, even if, according to Immobiliare.it, fewer than one in five properties in major Italian cities has access to its own garden. The Italian cities where people are most likely to hit the “own garden” filter in their web searches are Florence, Genoa and Verona, followed by Venice, Rome and Catania.


Scavolini, Formalia Outdoor, photo courtesy

Explaining why the Scavolini company created Formalia Outdoor, the first kitchen designed for the outdoors unveiled by the company at the last Salone, CEO Fabiana Scavolini says: “There’s growing interest today in more liveable outdoor spaces, and that includes kitchens designed for the outdoors: not just simple barbecue stations but dynamic, multifunctional structures that make spending time together outdoors more enjoyable”.

“An extension of Vittore Niolu’s Formalia collection, Formalia Outdoor retains all of the indoor design’s hallmarks: shaped doors with fitted handles, and the Status Wall System, a modular, exposed structure made out of aluminium. Drawing on nineteen modular elements that combine with the latest generation of appliances, every configuration of Formalia Outdoor is a one-off, designed to fit into any type of outdoor space and adapt to different furnishing styles.”

The Scavolini Green Mind project showcases the company’s commitment to enhancing environmental sustainability across its output. “When we were designing Formalia Outdoor, we paid great attention to choosing materials that not only ensure high performance but express refined design,” says the CEO. “Aluminium frames and tops with integrated washing areas, available in both steel and other materials, may be combined with two different door and frame finishes: steel, or outdoor-performance-grade plywood in a teak veneer. Both solutions are resistant to moisture, weather, temperature changes, and wear and tear. And let’s not forget, steel and aluminium are both 100-percent recyclable materials.”

When it comes to sustainability, Scavolini obtained CQP Product Circularity certification, attesting to 96 percent product circularity. The company uses FSC®-C168055-guaranteed raw materials, confirming that they come from forests managed in full respect of the environment and their local societies, and are economically sustainable.


Flexform, Outdoor Collection 2022, photo courtesy

According to the company, “Flexform’s new outdoor collection revolves around poolside pieces like the Camargue family of chairs, the Atlante Light lounger, and the Alcamo family of coffee tables, characterized by tubular aluminium structures machined and curved into unique shapes. As well as coping with weather, chlorine and salt spray, aluminium is renowned for its strength and lightness. Combined with the beauty of the design, the result is an unparalleled design product.”

The company’s selection of materials ensures high performance in gardens and on terraces. The structural wood, steel, and aluminium elements, and the upholstery too, are all weather and wear resistant.

The company adds: “The special locations where these products are placed entails specific choices during design and manufacture. For our outdoor items, we are more attentive to moving requirements, adopting a lightweight structure and wheels, designing them to be stackable and easy-to-store in wintertime. “Most of the components we use to make our products are recyclable. Aluminium and stainless steel are, for example, materials that may be reused multiple times at the end of their life cycle, retaining all their properties.”


Pedrali, Reva Cocoon, design Patrick Jouin, photo courtesy

Pedrali is another company whose design takes into account outdoor product functionality in gardens or on covered/uncovered terraces or verandas. This is not surprising, given that company founder Mario Pedrali started the business after creating his own wrought iron garden furniture.

“Our pieces are lightweight and easy to move, and in many cases stackable to cut down on space when not in use or to be easy to store at the end of the day. The materials we use ensure resistance to weather, salt spray and sunlight, enabling them to retain their beauty and quality over time. In all our collections, Pedrali’s approach to environmental sustainability begins at the design stage, when we focus on what materials to use, optimizing raw material consumption and rationalizing resources, as well as reusing and/or recycling waste and pursuing disassemblability and emissions control.”

In 2020, the company unveiled its first “recycled grey” collections in recycled polypropylene (50 percent made from post-consumer plastic waste, 50 percent from industrial plastic waste). 

“We presented the ‘recycled grey’ version of Souvenir at the recent Salone, a seating collection designed by Eugeni Quitllet that reinterprets French-style seating in the Jardin des Tuileries and Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris. All in all, we unveiled twelve new products at the Fair, including Reva Cocoon, designed by Patrick Jouin, a lounge seating system with stainless steel backrests covered in a polypropylene rope weave; Babila Twist by Odo Fioravanti, a steel armchair with a wide, cozy seat; and Arki-Sofa, an outdoor seating system with teak detailing that offers the comfort and elegance of an indoor sofa.”