Mr Jan Dammis of hospitality furniture supplier GO IN looks at the latest trends in outdoor furniture.

What design trends do you expect to be popular when it comes to al fresco areas in the licensed trade this year?

Outside is definitely ‘in’. Alfresco dining and outdoor restaurants have been booming right across Europe. Carefully designed terraces get people flocking in and are an excellent source of revenue.  Choosing the correct outdoor furniture and creating an attractive outside space which fits your overall concept is the key to success.

Outdoor spaces are more than just a ‘must have’ add-on; they should be designed to complement the visual style of the rest of the restaurant or bar.  In order to maximise the potential of outdoor spaces and to attract different groups of guests, it’s often helpful to divide terraces into zones. Groups of tables and chairs stand in the centre as a place for table service and dining. These can be combined with bar tables and stools for a quick coffee or snack.  Then there are lounge areas where guests can enjoy a relaxing cocktail.

What essential pieces of outdoor furniture do operators need ahead of the summer months and why? What is the merit in having a great outdoor area?

For 2018 GO IN has expanded its already wide outdoor range, to include both classic and design-led furniture, with many new trendsetters.  For example, the outdoor lounge furniture Tuxum really catches the eye.  The beautifully shaped sofa and chairs in a simple ‘Scandi style’ stand out thanks to their light look and mix of technical outdoor fabric, aluminium and wood effect.  These are perfect for the cocktail areas of outside terraces.

New chairs, including the Elias, exude a feeling of lightness and summertime. The retro-style chair has small proportions and comes in simple white, as well as popular brick red and olive green. It’s available with a closed or perforated backrest.  The frame is made of powder-coated steel; the comfortable seat shell is polypropylene.  Comfortable, stackable and lightweight, the Elias is a practical all-rounder, sure to be loved by guests and staff alike.

Top tips for successful outdoor areas

Tip 1.  First impressions are everything, so make your outdoor area is a good or even better representation of your indoor style.

Tip 2.  Offer comfort, style and quality.  Make cost savings by buying from the right supplier, rather than compromising standards.

Tip 3.  Go for flexible arrangements so that changes can be made quickly and easily.  For example, go for small tables, which can be arranged individually or used together for larger groups.

Tip 4.  Make small but significant gestures towards additional comfort.  For example, offer seat cushions and warm blankets for chillier evenings.

Tip 5.  Make sure the furniture is robust, easy to maintain and well looked after to make sure it stays looking good.

Whatever you’re planning, look at what you’re trying to achieve and make sure you spend your money in the right places – where it will make the most impact.  Mostly this will mean the visible things – table-tops, chairs and bench seating – rather than posh table bases which may well be hidden when in use.  Go for the best quality you can afford – the furniture needs to look just as good in two or three years as it does on the day it’s delivered, otherwise your next refurbishment will come sooner than expected.