Following a long and cold winter of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, we can't wait for summer to come. As many offices let their staff work from home amid the pandemic, with cafes and restaurants being closed most of the time, getting some fresh air and enjoying the sun outside became a luxury.
"Even taking a walk with the family – a ritual once often ridiculed – is now being valued again," Nicolette Naumann, trend analyst at a major home design fair in Frankfurt says. "It's now a highlight for children to go to the forest with mum and dad."
This newly awakened desire to be outside, to be in nature, has already caused a boom in the demand for garden and balcony furniture in the first year of the pandemic. And experts are expecting another spike this year, especially in the segment of higher quality furniture.
If we are all stuck at home anyway (and it looks like that’s still not going to change for some time in some places), why not transform your outdoor space into an oasis?
One of the obvious perks of remote working is that you can work from anywhere. So why not take the laptop outside on a fair weather day, Naumann asks.
"This requires a whole other quality of furniture," namely proper tabletops and ergonomic chairs.
When it comes to garden furniture, we're no longer talking about those hard plastic chairs that stick to your skin, wobbly tables and folding lounges that are impossible to sit upright in?
A lot has happened over the past years. Outdoor sofas, carpets, pillows and even chandeliers are increasingly available. There’s nothing you cannot buy to pimp up your garden, say the trend experts from the garden trade fair Spoga+Gafa in Cologne.
"The more time people spend at home, the more their garden is transformed into extended living space. The trend towards increasingly livable outdoor areas is therefore continuing and intensifying," they write in their report.
A lot of garden furniture can even be used indoors as well: except for weather-proof upholstery and textiles, there is no visible difference anymore.
Both indoor and outdoor furniture is currently dominated by reduced, simple designs. "Filigree tables and chairs follow the new slimness ideal, as do minimalist-shaped garden loungers and armchairs," says the trade show trend report.
"To liven things up, bright colors are gaining popularity alongside classic outdoor tones such as grey and brown."
Garden and balcony furniture often comes in natural colors these days and is made of wood, rattan or bamboo, materials which not only fit into the garden more naturally but are also more sustainable than plastic.
The trend toward higher-quality garden furniture also has financial reasons. "People are not counting on travel right now, especially expensive long-distance travel, and can therefore invest more in the garden," explains Naumann.
Your computer hardware is another matter, however. If you can supply power from an outdoor socket or power bank, then the only remaining obstacle is whether you can still see your computer screen when the sun is out.
Whatever happens in the world outside, the balcony and garden are going to be our safest picks for taking a holiday in 2021.