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Garden furniture, also called patio furniture and outdoor furniture, is a type of furniture specifically designed for outdoor use. It is typically made of weather-resistant materials such as aluminium which does not rust, Teak and Wicker. The oldest surviving examples of garden furniture were found in the gardens of Pompeii.
Seating has long been a part of garden design. Indeed, both the Romans and Greeks incorporated stone seating into their outdoor spaces. But our modern concept of outdoor furniture more likely has its roots in the formal gardens of England where the gentry first took household chairs and tables’ outdoors, as many 16th and 17th century English paintings depict. By the latter stages of the 17th century, the popularity of outdoor seating had extended to garden design.
In 1669, English agriculturist John Worlidge wrote in his Systima Agriculture publication that furniture be strategically placed to take in the full view of the garden. A century later, renowned London cabinet maker Thomas Chippendale began to design furniture specifically for the outdoors. According to The Chippendale Society, the plate above was created by Chippendale and features in The Gentleman and Cabinet Marker’s Director, Third Edition 1762 and depicts two designs for garden chairs, as well as a long seat.
“That marked A is proper for Arbours, or Summer-Houses, and C proper for Grottos; the Seat marked B, may be placed in Walks, or at the Ends of Avenues. The Backs may be cut out of solid Board, and fixed to the Back Edges of the Seats. The length of Seat B is seven Feet.”
Chippendale’s work marked the beginnings of an industry that has endured to present day.
Types of furniture
Garden furniture is often sold as a patio set consisting of a table, four or six chairs, and a (parasol). A picnic table is used for the purpose of eating a meal outdoors. Long chairs, referred to as chaise longue, are also common items. Recently seating furniture has been used for conversation areas using items like couches.
The British 'garden parasol' or American 'garden umbrella' is the term for a specialised type of umbrella designed to provide shade from the sun. Parasols are either secured in a weighted base or a built-in mount in the paving. Some are movable around outdoor tables and seating, others centred through a hole mid-table.
Patio heaters are used to enable people to sit outside at night or in cold weather. They can be permanently mounted on eaves and patio roofs, or portable and self-supporting. They can operate on electricity, propane, bottled butane (small units), or natural gas. The latter can be plumbed into permanent locations or attached to 'quick-connect' outlets.
Modular outdoor fire pits and portable fire bowls have become widely available in many materials to extend outdoor living. The tall clay Chimeneas of North America are an example.
Current garden accessories include items like birdbaths, plant stands, planter boxes and trellises to add detail to an outdoor space.
Wooden garden furniture can suffer through exposure to the elements and therefore needs to be periodically treated. Teak is a commonly used material for outdoor furniture. It naturally contains silica, which makes it resistant to fungal decay, many of the effects of water (such as rot, swelling and warping), as well as chemicals. It is also resistant to fire, acid and alkalis.
When Teak weathers it loses its original look but gains a majestic, almost silver glow. Many owners prefer the aged look of teak and because of its resistance to rotting and infestation, it can be appreciated without upkeep. Aluminium garden furniture is robust and long-lasting. However, if the protective coating is compromised it will corrode. Plastic garden furniture is naturally waterproof, so it can be left out year-round.
Wicker outdoor living furniture was originally made from the stems of any one of 600 species of palms found in tropical regions all over the world. The palm stems were tightly woven into interlocking panels, and formed into the desired structure. Now, most modern wicker furniture is made from synthetic resin, increasing the life expectancy and reducing manufacturing costs. Today's resin furniture is often made of recycled plastic and incredibly durable, usually carrying warranties of 20 years or longer. It can be moulded to resemble real wood or wicker.
Firms in this industry are involved in the retail of household furniture, blinds, awnings and mattresses. Both company-owned and franchised stores are included in the industry, as are the online sales generated by industry operators. The industry excludes department stores, online-only retailers and auction websites.
The Australian Outdoor Furniture Industry
Furniture retailers have faced a challenging market over the five years through 2014-15, with industry revenue expected to post annualised growth of just 0.1%. Over this period, the industry's trading conditions have been adversely affected by continued instability in financial markets, which led to uncertainty in consumer sentiment and subdued retail spending across the domestic economy. Despite growth in discretionary incomes over the past five years, demand for furniture has remained weak due to consumer concerns about the ability to repay debt.
Industry Statistics and Market Size
- Revenue = 8billion
- Businesses = 4,364
- Employment = 23,292 
Australian Outdoor Furniture Companies
- Outdoor Living Direct
- Bali Republic
- Milan Direct 
- United Outdoor Furniture
- Ellis Outdoor Living
American Outdoor Furniture Industry
Furniture retail in the United States is a very important aspect for the country's economy. The global home goods industry refers to the manufacture, distribution and retail of home furniture, household decorative accessories, soft furnishings (draperies and curtains), appliances, cookware and gardening equipment. During the economic recession, the industry was negatively impacted as consumers cut back on non-essential spending, putting off home improvement projects due to lower disposable income. Furniture and home furnishings stores generated about 101.41 billion U.S. dollars worth of sales in 2013. Home ownership, another important factor contributing to home goods demand is increasing as employment levels rebound. As consumer demand for high-end home goods increases, companies are focusing on high-quality goods to fare better against mass-merchandise outfits. Furniture, lighting and home decor products generated about 80.19 billion U.S. dollars in retail sales, while the U.S. tabletop industry generated approximately 73 million U.S. dollars from sterling silver flatware alone in 2012. Industry players have begun to collaborate with fashion designers in order to give their crystalware, flatware and dinnerware product lines added style.
Over the years to come, leading players in the U.S. retail furniture industry are likely to concentrate their efforts on product innovation and environmentally friendly business practices, goods and packaging. Demand will continue to rise as the housing sector recovers, with rising affluence in specific demographics such as aging baby boomers driving demand for certain products.
American Outdoor Furniture Companies
- Brown Jordan
- Winston Furniture 
- Summer Classics 
- Woodard Furniture 
- The Tropitone Furniture Company 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Garden furniture.|
- Reynolds, Carly. "The Garden Furniture Industry". Artificial Plants and Trees. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
- "Retrospective: A short history of outdoor furniture". jati.com.au. Retrieved 2015-02-02.
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- "Outdoor Living Direct". Retrieved 2015-02-02.
- "Jati Outdoor Furniture Store". Retrieved 2015-02-02.
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