• Cindy W. Hodnett

Shelter Outdoor, Beaufurn blur design lines between residential, commercial furnishings

The ShelterThe Shelter system available in the U.S. through Shelter Outdoor is an aluminum extrusion shelter with a louvered roof.
ADVANCE, N.C. — In a small North Carolina town where temperate weather is more the norm than the exception, two sister outdoor companies are smudging the design lines between residential and commercial furnishings.

At Shelter Outdoor LLC and Beaufurn, Bill Bongaerts and his team are producing seating, umbrellas and outdoor shelters that are used in private residences as well as restaurants, hotels and resorts. And while created for different demographics, the synergy between the two companies underscores the crossover design influence of each category.

In an exclusive interview with Furniture/Today, Bongaerts talked about some of the outdoor retail trends his company is currently addressing.

“In hospitality and residential, we see a growth in covered outdoor areas,” Bongaerts said. “They’re used to protect from UV (ultraviolet) rays and also to allow people to entertain and stay outdoors through the fall with the use of heaters and lights.”

Bongaerts added that one solution his company created is the Shelter system, a structure he describes as “hurricane-proof aluminum extrusion shelters.” Made to size with a louvered roof system, side screens and rain and sun sensors, the Shelter system is distributed by Shelter Outdoor exclusively in the U.S.

“The Shelter was introduced about five years ago in Europe and has become immensely popular there in hospitality and residential environments,” Bongaerts said. “We expect this product to be a major category in both residential and commercial environments in the United States.”

Thomas Bongaerts, chief operating officer for Shelter Outdoor and Beaufurn, said that consumers are furnishing their outdoor spaces with the same attention to detail as their indoor rooms. He added that the crossover design potential references the flexibility of outdoor living areas from both a materials perspective as well as a style directive.

The Brasserie chair and tableThe Brasserie chair and table set by Beaufurn references an industrial-inspired design aesthetic.

“There are some common themes to outdoor seating and lounging products, dictated by the types of materials used,” Thomas Bongaerts said. “This being the case, we find that both commercial and residential architects and designers can combine form and color to fit almost any type of outdoor space. The creativity of consumers — whether a homeowner or a commercial architect or designer — really helps us drive the innovation of outdoor products.”

Going into 2015, Thomas Bongaerts said he expects the interest in outdoor living spaces, and the consumer’s willingness to open his or her wallet a little wider, t o continue.

“(Consumers are looking) for comfort and quality,” he said. “It sounds simple, but when you retreat to an outdoor space during the summer for a family dinner, lounging or reading a book, you want to be comfortable. I would say it’s most similar to the investment made in a good sofa.… Quality becomes a big factor because owners want furnishings that require little attention and they want it to be available and in good condition when the weather is nice enough to enjoy it.”

Cindy HodnettCindy W. Hodnett | Upholstery/Style Editor

As the Upholstery/Style Editor for Furniture/Today, I spend my work hours studying the sloping curves of sofa frames, the intricacies of fabric and the nail head trim and button accents that function as jewelry on a piece of upholstery. I research the companies that bring these things together for retailers, and ultimately consumers, and interview industry leaders about their business strategies and where they think furniture is heading in the future. And when traveling, I provide a sneak peek at what I'm seeing, whether at international markets or in High Point or Las Vegas.

I look forward to sharing what I see and I hope you'll feel free to do the same. Email me at chodnett@furnituretoday.com or follow me on Twitter @CynthiaWHodnett.

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