Posted Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013
By this time of year, almost anything that has been left outside to summer is little more than a scorched husk of its former self. Excessive moisture can be as unforgiving, but those of us in Texas have a hard time conceiving that possibility. But two materials can withstand whatever weather comes their way — teak and marine-grade stainless steel. The wood can fade to a silvery gray, but it doesn’t splinter or warp and the metal shows no signs of distress. Which is why the combination of materials is perfect for outdoor furniture.
“We love the combination of teak and stainless steel,” says Jane Sieberts, president of Summit Furniture. The company recently introduced the Boomerang collection. Created by California designer Alwy Visschedyk, it is so aerodynamically sleek that the armchairs look as if they are moving.
Where to Shop
Design Directions by John Brooks
2050 Stemmons Freeway, Suite 11000
Kingsley-Bate Boca Collection
Into the Garden
4600 Dexter Ave.
Allan Knight and Associates
150 Turtle Creek Blvd., Suite 101
Oscar de la Renta
Neiman Marcus Ridgmar
2100 Green Oaks Road
Sieberts says the two materials “complement each other so well. The warmth of the wood and the coolness of the steel work together to accentuate the beauty of both. One is impervious to the elements and the other is a natural element that is impervious to the elements. Stainless steel and teak bring out the best in each other.”
The popularity of this pairing is elevating the outdoor furniture to interior-grade design so that it can work inside as well. The streamlined good looks of the warm wood and reflective metal are a natural in contemporary settings.
Kingsley-Bate has a teak and stainless steel table and bench that are meant for outdoor use, but the Boca collection is so stylishly slick that the benches could work equally well inside. The attractive pairing of metallic shine and warm wood prompted Oscar de la Renta to recently introduce into his line of home goods a silver-plated five-piece flatware pattern that has twirled teak handles.
The contemporary leanings of the wood and steel duo were its downfall in the beginning. Even with all the pluses of a wood that gets softer and smoother with age and a metal that doesn’t rust, the combination was not readily accepted in the U.S. when it was introduced more than a decade ago.
Retailers squawked, “What do you expect me to do with that?” Charles Hessler remembers. The executive vice president of Barlow Tyrie, a British manufacturer of outdoor furnishings, thought the combination of longevity and strength of the two materials would be a natural for the American market. It was selling well in Europe, but a Greenwich, Conn., dealer told him he’d never be able to sell it. The dealer was used to traditional outdoor furniture and found the teak and stainless steel pieces too contemporary.
The retailers were proved wrong. Now teak and stainless steel are often the bestsellers in an outdoor furniture manufacturer’s inventory. They certainly are for Barlow Tyrie, Hessler says.
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