Home furniture. Garden furniture. Two completely different categories, different products, different materials, different styles. You even tend to shop in different places for them.
Well that’s the conventional way of thinking anyway. But sometimes it’s worth taking a step back from received wisdom and looking at things with a fresh pair of eyes.
After all, is the furniture you have inside and outside your home really so fundamentally different? Is a dining table not a dining table wherever it’s kept? Don’t all chairs perform the same basic function?
Ok, so we’re being slightly facetious. There are of course differences between interior and exterior furniture, namely in terms of certain categories of furniture you find in one bot not the other. You don’t find many beds, wardrobes or dressers out in anyone’s garden, for example. And a garden bench would look more than a little out of place indoors.
But at Jo Alexander, we believe this separation of spaces when it comes to furniture has gone too far. The fact that so many furniture makers and retailers pigeon hole themselves as working exclusively in one or the other market puts an arbitrary cap on innovative thinking and creative expression.
Where there are clear synergies and similarities between furniture found both inside the home and in the garden – as is the case with tables, chairs, even sofas – then why shouldn’t there be a cross-pollination of ideas across the divide? Why shouldn’t we think in terms of flexible, multi-purpose pieces that work just as well in a variety of different settings?
From outside looking in
Working with a group of like-minded artisan manufacturers, this was the inspiration for us to expand our offer by adding luxury home furniture to our range. It felt a very natural progression, building on the well-established aesthetic we’ve made our trademark across our garden ranges – a combination of classical beauty, skilled craftsmanship and premium quality.
To us, these are all aesthetic values that are just at home inside as they are out.
The development of our indoor range has been spearheaded by looking with fresh eyes at our outdoor products and considering their potential as a piece of home furniture. If a dining table makes for a stand-out feature in the garden, then why wouldn’t it work in a dining room?
Using this as a stylistic template, we’ve then been able to build on our collection of pieces for the interior. Or simply recommend furniture as flexible either/or options. In doing so, we believe we’ve been able to define a fresh new aesthetic for luxury home furniture that is nonetheless timeless and traditional.
Elegant and sustainable
Take our passion for teak furniture, for example. Teak is renowned as a material for garden furniture because it is so hard wearing and weather resistant. Its dense grain structure and naturally high oil content mean teak garden tables and chairs will sit in your garden in all weather for years on end as sturdy as the day you bought them, with minimal maintenance and no risk of rot or decay.
But teak is not just highly durable and therefore practically useful. It is also one of the most beautiful and sought-after hardwood timbers. Its rich honey-coloured hues look fabulous in any environment. A teak dining set is easily the match of any of the more traditional hardwoods found inside British homes, like oak, mahogany or walnut.
And another bonus is, because it is so hard-wearing, there are plentiful supplies of reclaimed teak available from countries like India and Thailand where it has traditionally been used as a construction material. So teak makes for a great option if you’re looking for responsibly sourced, sustainable furniture for your home.
A lighter touch
Another aspect of our outdoors-to-indoors aesthetic is that we feel it can give rooms a lighter look and feel. A lot of garden furniture tends to literally be more lightweight than indoor equivalents, to make it easier to move around for storage or flexibility.
Wicker is a great example. As well as being easy to reposition, wicker furniture has an airy feel to it that is a great fit for long, lazy summer afternoons enjoying the sun in the garden. Yet why wouldn’t you want this kind of stylistic touch inside your home, too?
For example, great big overstuffed armchairs have their place, but in certain situations, in certain rooms they can be too imposing, too, well… stuffy! Wicker armchairs packed with cushions can be just as comfortable, but with a much more demure and graceful feel to them.
Overall, challenging the barriers between home and garden furniture has allowed us to develop a range that brings the best of the outdoors inside. And with summer approaching, that’s something we all want a little more of.