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Walking into Kettal’s U.S. headquarters and flagship store in Coral Gables, Florida, you’d be hard-pressed not to wonder “where is the outdoor furniture?” Each vignette is carefully composed and filled with impeccably designed pieces from world-renowned masters including Rodolfo Dordoni, Jasper Morrison, and Patricia Urquiola, among others. To the average shopper the soft upholstered forms, rich wood, delicate marble, and plush rugs seem incongruous with our expectations of what outdoor furniture can be. It all looks like it could easily be placed in your living or dining room - and it could. But everything here was made for life in the great outdoors.
Prototype Mesh Sofa designed by Patricia Urquiola
Vieques Sectional designed by Patricia Urquiola
Although I’d glanced at the company's website before, this was my first up-close and personal experience with Kettal as a brand. Thomas Downes (US Sales Manager) and Carlos Alfaro (Export Director) were kind enough to dedicate their Saturdays to showing me through not only the showroom, but also through Kettal’s 49 year history. From the purveyor of easily accessible and transportable furniture for camping and the beach to one of the top-tier manufacturers of luxury outdoor furniture, much has changed over the years. The largest and most recent shift in strategy and focus for this family-owned company came within the last decade with a generational shift in management. The transformation within their product range is inspiring. Even fairly recent products like 2008’s “Maia” range are actively being rethought and reengineered with new materials. Although the original chair will remain in the collection, the new-for-2014 Maia “Relax” chair dons a new cloth weave as well as a quartet of oiled teak legs. Progress is a good thing and Kettal is not standing still.
New for 2015 Maia in rope and teak (left) next to original in synthetic fiber (right) designed by Patricia Urquiola
There have been incredible developments in outdoor textiles in the past decade (forget about plastic-covered furniture). Today’s outdoor fabrics are almost indistinguishable from (and sometimes substituted for) their indoor counterparts. Kettal’s collection has taken the usability these textiles to the next level by laminating them with a waterproof membrane resulting in seat and back cushions that are soft and breathable yet remain dry after a rain. Additionally the company has developed a unique range of 3D textured woven fabrics and rugs which are made exclusively for their collections.
Last, but not least, I was finally able to experience Kettal’s line of Pavilions firsthand. The existing line is able to be configured in either single or double spaces with the ability to enclose the sides with fabric curtains, aluminum mesh, cedar slats, shelving, glass, or planters. These gazebo-like structures are considered “temporary” and can be assembled in a matter of hours. Best of all, they are not subject to permitting requirements in most municipalities. New for 2014 are the XL Pavilions which retain the same options listed above but bump the overall dimensions from the previous maximum height of 7’ 6.5” (230cm) up to 8’ 10.2” (270cm) and the width from 11’ 7.7” (355cm) to 17’ 6.3” (534.3 cm).