Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sunbrella and Garden Design Magazine Host Design Event

As if garden designers needed another reason to spec out Sunbrella® designs. 

We love their quality, craftsmanship.
We adore their inspiring colors and stripes and patterns.
We respect their durability, easy maintenance and protection from the elements. 

That’s a lot to love.

But then…Garden Design Magazine and Sunbrella hosted an informative and stylish fashion show-type event, complete with front row seats at the season’s sneak preview for what’s new.  

Appropriately, the event was held in New York City’s premiere design center, The Decoration and Design Building

There was a panel discussion and a slide show that was more like a designers portfolio of successful projects an intimate look at in-home designs that ignited the creative sparks for house and garden. If you don't have their brochure, visit the website.

The panel experts were: Norman Vanamee, editor in chief, Garden Design Magazine,
Lindsey Taylor, Style Director, Garden Design Magazine, and
Gina Wicker, Design and Creative Director, Sunbrella Fabrics.

Panel Experts: Lindsey Taylor (L), Norman Vanamee, Gina Wicker

The introduction of Sunbrella rugs was good news to hear about.  The first collection, The Renaissance, comes in a variety of sizes: runners as small as 2x5’ to squares and octagons up to 11’ and the colors and patterns with sexy, glamorous names such as Mink, Garnet and Ebony are destined to fulfill a spectrum of good garden room designs. 
Wicker pointed out the importance of maintaining floors using Sunbrella rugs. “The gorgeous rugs also serve to reduce heat gain in the house and create a cozy room such as a special breakfast nook.”  The rungs are made with 100% Sunbrella acrylic yarn and contain 50% recycled content from Sunbrella fabric and fiber “waste.”

Wow.  This is one responsible and sustainable, green company.  It’s like learning the prom queen is also the valedictorian AND she volunteers for charity. 

In fact, Sunbrella fabrics are certified by the GREENGUARD Institute’s Children and Schools standard as contributing to healthy indoor air by being a very low-emitting interior product. 
Parent’s can breathe a sigh of relief with this news.
Plus, think about how much the Sunbrella awnings reduce energy consumption. And protect from the sun’s mean aging rays. I tell my garden team and clients, “Remember, the sun is not our friend.”  I learned here that The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends Sunbrella as an aid in the prevention of sun-induced damage to the skin.
This is great news for all you glamour-pusses out there. 

My husband and I are in the middle of a home renovation at our country house in the Garden State and I can promise you, I will be using yard and yards of Sunbrella fabric, draping and billowing around our new outdoor terrace and patio where I will be doing yoga, enjoying a soak in a Japanese tub and repairing the body from all that garden work with healing massages.  Ahhhhh…

Images of a Georgia home using Sunbrella on every surface throughout the house flashed across the screen.  There were a variety of textures and patterns accessorizing window treatments, floors and the patio. A very coordinated ensemble.               

I could see the European design influence Wicker told the audience about -- Sunbrella has a design facility in France -- especially in the grey duppioini pattern.  It truly looked as a created artwork for the space…

A Q&A followed the presentation.  Questions ranged from “How big was the garden property Vanamee showed and could she submit a garden design for a small garden.  The Garden Design Editor said the magazine tries to do all size gardens.
In turn, he asked the audience if they’d read the Garden Design magazine feature design on the renovation the team did for the small backyard townhouse garden at the James Beard House, as an ideal example of a small, er, postage sized, garden.

Here is the slide show in case you misplaced your online bookmark of Garden Design’s delicious, urban landscape work:

Vanamee encouraged submissions with just five pictures max and a short description – less than a paragraph – more a little story about what happened in terms of the garden design. How the design solved a problem of some sort…

Sunbrella’s Wicker addressed the issue of fabric and textiles.
What type of materials used depends on what part of the country the space is located in, advised Wicker.  She cited flow-through firm foam as example. “It’s perfect for Miami. The South West, not so much.”  “Ultimately, it’s all about how much maintenance your client wants to support,” Wicker added.  

Wicker urged attendees to consider the practical side of the design as well -- Slipcovers can be taken off and put in the washer with bleach. This makes it easier to keep clean and mold free.

Wicker also noted the benefit of Sunbrella’s reversible cushion cover designs.
“Red wine cleans up.  No problem. And the design and use of hydrophobic fiber was created to dry quickly, standing on end.”

Goody bags and snacks and design community chat followed the presentation.  Garden Design Magazine's editor, Norman, was gracious and introduced me to Gina Wicker.  As part of our conversation, I got the chance to tell her how I love using the company’s fabrics as part of my garden designs: on porches and gazebos.  
But also, I got to tell her about one use she said she’d never heard of.  Using a green, black, tan and white striped Sunbrella fabric, I fashioned a box-kite like design around tall, cut birch tree “rods” positioned at four corners of the two bins that make up our compost area.  A white fence backed by landscape fabric surrounds the compost bins, fronted by pretty plants, and topped off with the fabric design “valance” for a look I call a Compost Cabana.  Who says compost is not fashionable. It’s all the rage.

How glamorous!

And thank you, Garden Design Magazine and Sunbrella.  It was a great garden design event. 


  1. Hi Leeann. Thank you so much for your kind words about Sunbrella. We are so glad you enjoyed the event! We love to hear how you use Sunbrella fabrics, especially when you think of unique, new applications, like your "Compost Cabana." Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights from the event!

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  3. My pleasure, Sunbrella Team! And I will begin postings about my home renovation "progress!!" and will be sure to share my more traditional and elegant use of Sunbrella draperies for patio and terraces. @sunbrella Your products are indeed very inspiring. Cheers!