The shifting world of contract

Back in 2004 when Sunset West began, contract installations were mostly comprised of small bistro tables with stacking dining chairs, chaises around the pool and occasionally an end table in between. Most often, all of the furniture was sourced from the same manufacturer, and the product usually matched in style, material and color. The norm for more than 30 years, this kind of setup made for a very clean and uniform look, but made it difficult to really make a statement or stand out.

But times have changed. Things started to slowly shift about 10 years ago or so, when we began to see fire elements become more common in contract installations. Yet, dining chairs were still being used as seating around these fire features. Then we began to see deep seating in hospitality projects, resulting in a shift from singular to multiple functioning areas.

Today most installations include some type of fire element, and it is still very common for the outdoor entertaining space to include chaises around the pool areas. Spaces have also incorporated intimate deep seating settings, as well as the modern outdoor daybed concept that allows the hospitality industry to offer their guests a luxurious, uncommon experience.

And while businesses continue to use bistro tables and stacking chairs, they’re almost exclusively in dining areas rather than around the fire element. The more inviting, comfortable and visually pleasing the space, the longer consumers are enticed to spend time in these areas. This gives those guests a reason to return, which results in greater revenue stream in food and beverage. That’s why the comfortable deep seating paired with a fire feature has become a go-to for the hospitality industry.

Finding a Mix of Product 

Style of furniture isn’t the only thing evolving in the hospitality sector. Today, many designers who work on contract projects look for a mix of outdoor furnishings with coordinating textures, materials and colors. This mirrors what we are seeing in the residential market, as well.

“Creative curation” for the outdoors creates a much less sterile environment, building a visually pleasing and far more interesting aesthetic. But the challenge many designers face when creating this kind of look is finding a single resource that can help them build a more diversified, curated mix for outdoor spaces.

That’s one of the reasons we’ve adopted a colorway approach to collections. Rather than simply launching new groups, we introduce new colorways that extend across a variety of products. At this month’s HD Expo in Las Vegas, we will reveal our new Frost colorway, which includes the Newport collection featuring vinyl cushion seating, king-size daybeds, sling deep seating and rope that all work together to allow designers the ability to procure a variety of materials, textures and finishes from one manufacturer.

wes stewart

Wes Stewart

In recent years, the HD Expo has done a wonderful job bringing together designers, purchasers and manufacturers for inspiration. And as the hospitality industry evolves, a spate of new materials such as stone, engineered wood, resin wicker and rope are elevating what’s possible for outdoor spaces, both in style and function.

We’re excited to see this shift in the hospitality industry, and we look forward to helping it continue to evolve by making it easier to create inviting and stylish outdoor spaces for contract clients.


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