Outdoor Furniture, Outdoor Rooms

Pumping at the Playground, Backyard Versions

In the US it’s time to swing into summer.  Loll Designs makes that possible — literally — with an update on the classic rope swing.

This one has a brightly colored seat made from 100 % recycled plastic resin (the material used in plastic milk jugs and detergent bottles) — perhaps something for that big tree in your backyard. Or what about sprucing up the patio or deck with Loll’s new outdoor furniture collection.

Designed by Eric Pfeiffer with Loll, the “Racer” series includes a chair, a rocker, and a table – also in recycled plastic. Loll makes a wide variety of outdoor furniture, including planters, all from recycled plastic.

I like the red rocker and the idea of racing along while staying in one place — perfect for a lazy weekend afternoon. A built-in handle at the top, a storage pocket behind the back – even a bottle opener – add to the furniture’s utility. These are relaxation machines!

Outdoor Ruminations

The late great landscape architect Thomas Church — whose career ran from the late 1920s through the 1970s — was the master of the outdoor room. As a longtime editor for Sunset magazine once told me: “Before Tommy Church, you could walk for miles in a garden and not find a place to sit down.” He helped popularize what we now take for granted: that a garden should be a place to work, play, dine, and entertain — not just observe. His landscapes were true extensions of the indoor rooms adjacent to them so that living areas could flow smoothly across thresholds. And he helped popularize the deck. I recall his work every time I think about where I would add a deck — off our dining room and overlooking the backyard one floor below. But we have space constraints so it would need to be fairly compact; nevertheless here are some iconic Thomas Church features we would need. A built-in sitting area like the splendid abstract zig-zag bench he designed for the Martin beach house  in the 1948: want it!

(This image courtesy Eco Vida International.) Of course our house is somewhat farther from the beach (like about two miles…) I like the way the benches create a room along the walkway, raise the basket-weave deck pattern into the third dimension, and lead your eye to the vista all while allowing you to sit. Maybe we could add a sandbox too! There’s a small tree off our dining room that I’d like to incorporate. Church often did this; for example at the Donnell garden

shown above, also of 1948 (photo courtesy The Cultural landscape Foundation). Building around the trees not only preserves them but also makes them an architectural feature. Church’s seminal book Gardens Are For People, originally published in 1954 and reprinted many times, is full of such ideas and remains relevant today.

But maybe we need to blast open the entire rear facade and create a two story indoor-outdoor space. For this I might look to a Brazilian modern example like the Olga Baeta house in Sao Paolo, of 1957 by Joao Vilanova Artigas.

Here the interior stair complements the exterior one and the room and the garden are a meeting of opposites (photo courtesy Domus.) Well maybe we need to sell a few more plans before this happens. And my wife might have a few other ideas…






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