The outdoor interior
An island open to the sky in the middle of the city: The longing for nature and relaxation is lived out on balconies. The limited space, however, requires some planning and clever solutions. This offers a real opportunity for retailers.
By Tina Röhlich
The balcony is a cosy refuge from the stresses of the city and opens up new vistas in our everyday lives.
In these few square metres a sense of life balance returns to millions of households during the summer season and after work. According to an immonet study, a balcony or terrace is important to 88 % of all Germans although only around 57 % actually have such an open-air oasis. In Italy, 91 % of the population are able to enjoy a balcony or terrace, whereas the figure is only 24 % in the UK, according to a study by Gardena. With the opportunity to sit out in the fresh air with a plate of pasta, a glass of rosé or your favourite book, surrounded by green vines and flowering plants, you can literally rise above it all.
But these important little spaces, on which some people not only relax after work, but also celebrate parties or even spend entire vacations, require love and creativity. “There is always the temptation to fill balconies with as much as possible in order to make maximum use of the valuable space,” says Emma Brunckhorst, owner of the interior design agency Emma B. Home. This is counterproductive, because in our fast-paced city life we usually sit out on the balcony for quiet and relaxation – and this is best achieved visually with just a few large items rather than with an array of small accessories and furniture.
RETREAT AND RELAXATION
88 % of all Germans want a balcony, 57 % already have one
Ever since the trends of urban gardening and outdoor homing made their way into cities, i.e. the desire to furnish terraces and balconies just as you would indoors, the retail trade has been supplying lots of clever and attractive products to satisfy this demand. According to Brunckhorst: “For instance, there are solar lights that can be used to create islands of light.” Textiles such as outdoor cushions or rugs that can withstand the weather quickly create a similarly sensual feeling as you’d find indoors. “Vertical gardens are also great because they extend the area available for greenery.” For example, there are special hanging planters and plant pouches for this purpose, or you could install shelving on which to group your plants vertically. “You can create beautiful collages on the balcony with, for instance, a picture in a weatherproof plastic frame, different pot plants and a solar lamp.”
LOVE AND CREATIVITY
Retailers have lots of beautiful products for small balconies
One of the most important concerns of many balcony owners is to create privacy for this most public area of our homes. However, landlords or owners’ associations may object if the privacy screen visually detracts from the overall impression of the building. Generally, nobody would object to an inconspicuous solution such as a raffia mat attached to the handrail that can be removed quickly. The privacy screen should also be unobtrusive at the edges: “You can choose a wooden element painted in, for instance, pastel green,” advises Emma Brunckhorst. Awnings or sail shades that require drilling into the masonry must be approved by the landlord. Once these potential obstacles have been overcome, you can start recharging the batteries.
Garden plants, outdoor furniture and accessories – an atmospheric garden is being created in the outdoor area between the Galleria and Hall 10. We have spoken with designers Rudi Tuinman and Pascal Koelman from 2Dezign.
What is special about the Outdoor Living area at Tendence?
This year it has been given twice as much space as before and offers even more inspiration and product ideas. The basic format, however, remains the same: a green garden with a wide variety of outdoor living products in an urban setting.
What challenges were there in the design process?
It was important to us to create the right balance: Visitors should be able to relax here, recharge their batteries and be inspired and enthused – but above all they should experience innovative products and accessories that can be directly incorporated into their own product ranges.
What is your personal highlight this year?
The highlight has been the brilliant collaboration with Messe Frankfurt! In less than three months we have developed and realised a concept. Tendence is extremely motivated and is on precisely the right track. It takes place at the ideal time and offers the trade a wealth of great, innovative ideas. We really enjoy this energy!