Years of lockdowns and unpredictable weather keeping people indoors has fostered a new way of at-home living. Treating outdoor areas as an extension of the home has seen them become multi-functional spaces, enjoyable havens, and expressions of ourselves, according to Outer CEO and co-founder, Jiake Liu.

“For some, this shift in attitude to home and living looked like investment in high-design pieces with an appreciation of furniture as art, for others there was a focus on comfort and lush fabrics, like bouclé, which was a global design obsession through 2021 and 2022,” he told Retailbiz in a recent interview.

“With climate conversations continuing to gain momentum, we’ve also seen a response in consumer attitudes with sustainable materials, production, and product longevity becoming increasingly important.”

Social media platforms like TikTok and Pinterest are continuing to drive fast-paced trend cycles, however, Liu believes these tend to be largely surface-level or superficial.

“We’re seeing a deeper undercurrent of personal style returning and with it, consumer exploration into unique or nostalgic designs in vintage pieces and second hand finds,” he said.

“This appreciation for personal design choices and quality pieces spans across all budgets, with some turning to top design and auction houses for their furniture while others opt to thrift for affordable, unique but on-trend pieces.

“Ultimately, this recognition of longevity will flow through to other purchasing so that even when we are buying new, consumers are likely to take more time to consider the future of the piece and opt for durability and timeless designs.”

Sustainability is at the heart of Outer, creating furniture that favours longevity and timelessness to reduce waste and help people live easier and better outside.

“Beyond aesthetics, our pieces are built to last with hand-sewn life-proof fabric that is stain, fade, and mould resistant and protected by our exclusive OuterShell protective cover which quickly rolls out to protect cushions from everyday dirt, debris, and morning dew,” Liu said.

“We also try to reduce aerosol use and chemicals on skin and in the air, so it made sense to create our Bug Shield Blankets, which repell mozzies and other bugs like flies and ants, using our invisible, odourless Insect Shield technology to keep us comfortable and safe.

Outer’s core focus is to continue to design thoughtful outdoor pieces and encourage community and empowered purchasing through its neighbourhood showrooms by offering potential customers the chance to visit the real backyards and balconies of existing Outer customers to see Outer products in real life. “This provides a chance to touch, see, and experience the product in a fully transparent environment – like two neighbours.”