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Bringing the inside out

Soho Home’s Chief Creative Officer, Gareth Lewis, talks us through the new collection, sharing his favourite pieces and how they’re designed for the outdoors

This year, we have introduced outdoor furniture for the first time as a full collection. The 21-piece collection of sun loungers, dining tables, chairs and more draw inspiration from our House rooftops and garden surroundings around the world with technical fabrications and a distinctive design aesthetic. Soho Home's Chief Creative Chief Officer, Gareth Lewis, gives us an inside look into the new collection.

"We've taken some of our bestselling indoor silhouettes and engineered them so that they're fully outdoor," says Lewis. One such piece is the Garret, a channel-tufted swivel chair available in a variety of colours and fabrics for indoor use. "It's taken years to get the outdoor version of the Garret right. What you find with a lot of outdoor furniture is that it's usually just a frame with an upholstery cushion laid on top, but a few of our key outdoor pieces are fully upholstered. All you need to do is hose them down, because they've got in-built channels in the seat designed to drain water. The fabric is specifically wicking, so that it draws all the moisture out," he says, "and the upholstery is of a high grade, meaning that it's tested to react well to sun and heat."

The resulting chair manages to achieve that rare trick of feeling like a beautifully made piece of furniture that just happens to be ready for outdoor use, as opposed to a hardwearing piece of outdoor gear that looks as unattractive as it does weatherproof. "You'd never expect to find the Garret in a garden. It looks too nice to be outside, but it's designed and engineered for it," says Lewis.

"I really challenged the team to create the pieces with the Soho Home Design language running through them, so that we weren't falling into outdoor furniture tropes," Lewis adds. "I didn't want the collection to look like standard garden furniture. The table top of our round Breno bistro table, for instance, is finished with a sunray pattern, rather than standard slats. We've done a terrazzo table, too, which was hard to perfect. We have a fantastic relationship with our friends at Pierre Frey and, like we do in the Houses, we've used their hard-wearing outdoor fabrics on some of the upholstered dining chairs."

"Each piece in the collection is inspired by a House," explains Lewis. "We've mostly connected them through patterns. I was at Soho Farmhouse the other day, and there's an outdoor upholstery pattern used there that we've used on the outdoor dining chair and throughout the collection," he says. "We really wanted to make a version of our Eldon sofa, so we developed the Gaspard. It's got this tubular construction on the back and we engineered a powder-coated metal frame to make it more fun. It's a much more 'outdoor' expression of our classic indoor sofa, which is cool."

Lewis's excitement about the new collection is palpable. "I love the double sun lounger with the outdoor canopy," he tells me, describing what is effectively an outdoor-ready four-poster bed - all fantastical angles and generous proportions; the kind of thing that wouldn't look out of place on the lawn at Saltburn. "It's whimsical and fun," he laughs. "I can imagine somebody dropping one down in an English country garden and it being an amazing space to spend the afternoon."

"We've curated patterned fabrics alongside our signature House stripes, rich wood tones and bold colours to provide a well-rounded collection that represents our unique take on outdoor living," says James Patmore, Soho Home's Design Director. Patmore worked closely with Lewis on the collection, "culminating with the launch of the outdoor version of our customer favourite, the Garret chair. It truly represents the collection and our ambition to create design-focused, curated yet comfortable outdoor spaces."

One of the things that members most love about Soho Home's indoor collection is its adaptability. The dining chairs, sofas, desks and beds have an understated yet homey appeal, which means they're easy to work into an existing environment. On whether the new outdoor collection will be as easy for members to build into their gardens, terraces and balconies, Lewis is effusive: "In terms of styling outdoor furniture, my view is to take your indoor cushions outdoors when you need them. That's how you'll get a great look that mirrors your home. You'll lounge nicely, too, rather than having to contend with scratchy outdoor cushion covers."

The challenges of creating high-quality outdoor furniture that will stand the test of time were manifold, explains Lewis. "One of the biggest has been finding good manufacturing partners. It's taken us this long to create outdoor furniture because we didn't want to rush and do pieces that weren't going to be delivered in the condition we wanted, or last in the way we wanted them to."

Soho Home introduced bathrooms for the first time earlier this year, which has proved popular with members. With garden furniture now entering the fray, could kitchens be on the horizon?

"What we're trying to do is expand our assortment so that we can offer our members more. We're moving into entryways, we're expanding mirrors, we're doing water-rated lighting [for bathrooms]. We want to give our interior designers and members the opportunity to fully outfit homes with the look of our Houses," says Lewis.

"In the future, I see us doing outdoor kitchens and outdoor cabinetry," he continues. "That would be a good thing. It's all about pushing our assortment forward and bringing Soho Home closer to the Houses. That's what our members want, ultimately."

Shop our new outdoor collection collection here.

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