Home: Taking It Outside

  • Designed by Richard Frinier, the Beach chair from Dedon’s new Spa collection consists of woven resin fiber wrapped around an aluminum frame.
<< Back to Robb Report, July 2008

Bobby Dekeyser’s career in professional soccer ended in 1990 when, during a heated match, someone kicked him in the face—hard—with a cleated shoe. From his hospital bed, the injured goalie for Germany’s Bayern Munich team began sketching designs that would lay the groundwork for a new career as the founder of Dedon, one of the world’s leading producers of luxury outdoor furniture.

Dedon’s latest three collections represent the pinnacle of Dekeyser’s aesthetic vision. Each features an innovative woven resin fiber created in the Dekeyser family’s plastics factory in Germany—and striking designs that are light years from the Victorian, Bar Harbor, and Stick wicker that dominate American outdoor furniture.

For the new collections, Dedon commissioned a diverse group of internationally renowned designers to create furnishings that range from the streamlined to the sculptural. Barcelona-based designers Harry & Camila’s 14-piece collection, Zofa, carries sleek lines that are reminiscent of modern Italian furniture. Available in hues such as chalk, carbon, or orange, this quintessentially urban-looking ensemble suspends the seating from an open box frame so that it hovers several inches above the ground. With his muscular, carbon-colored Phoenix collection, Swiss-born Nicolas Thomkins highlights curves; the eight-piece set evokes the sexy profile of a sports car. Finally, California native Richard Frinier delivers Zen-like tranquility with his Spa line. The designs in this 13-piece, bronze-colored collection cradle the body on gently arched surfaces that extend over wide rectangular bases.

"The pillars of our company are design, quality, comfort, and luxury," says Hervé Lampert, chief technical officer for Dedon, who oversees product development and manufacturing at the company’s weaving facility on the island of Cebu in the Philippines. With more than 3,000 employees in five countries, the company has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 1990, when Dekeyser, with the help of just two assistants, set up shop in a remodeled chicken coop in Lower Saxony’s Lüneburg Heath with the hope of using his family’s resin fiber to create "a living room for outdoors." In early prototypes he wrapped this material—which had traditionally been a coating for snow skis—over a rattan frame. But because rattan eventually breaks down in the sun, he determined that powder-coated aluminum made the most durable framework.

Eighteen years later, Dedon still employs the same base materials, but the company’s design aesthetic continues to advance. Where Dekeyser’s debut piece, Mighty, consisted of an overscale, Chesterfield-style lounge chair with rolled arms, the current pieces exude the precision, detail, and form normally reserved for interior furnishings. The three new collections, priced from about $670 to $4,870, offer seating, dining, and lounging pieces that are ideal for a variety of activities, from formal outdoor entertaining to lounging by the pool, or even observing a friendly soccer game.

 

Dedon, +49.41.31.22.4470, www.dedon.de; available in the
U.S. through Janus et Cie, 310.652.7090, www.janusetcie.com

Photo by Marco Scarpa
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