Garden furniture is a slippery slope. Many of us barely consider it either because we live in city apartments without exterior space or, if we’re lucky enough to have a garden or terrace, the climate is generally so miserable that we tend to make do with any ersatz solution on those precious days when the sun beams down. But, for those who live in more clement biomes or are adamant to make a go of it in the garden, selecting the right furniture is a challenge. Make the wrong choices and you could end up cast as exactly the kind of bourgeois reactionary suburbanite you’re trying so hard not to be.
So, for diehard fans of classic modernism – hopefully with a little humour in the mix– you need look no further than Mal for the perfect outdoor solution.
We don’t automatically associate the Netherlands with outdoor living. But, as anyone who has travelled there during the warm summer months can tell you, the Dutch can’t wait to get out in the sunshine. In fact, many of them can’t wait to get their clothes off to greet it naked. On the other hand, the fact that an Eindhoven-based design studio has come up with the ultimate outdoor furniture design comes as no surprise. What Holland lacks in warm weather, it makes up for in innovative contemporary design.
The Mal 1956 was the micro-company’s first product and is essentially a kind of witty design readymade. Rather than trundle out their own contribution to furniture design, Bob Copray and Niels Wildenberg took the classic Eames chair and cast it in rotational moulded plastic, thereby transforming it into a durable outdoor version of the design classic. Produced in a range of colours from the understated to the extremely bright – orange, red or azure – The Mal 1956 means that you never have to lower your standards just because the weather has lured you outdoors. But take note: Mal 1956 is now something of a collector’s item in its own right. Since October last year, it’s no longer available in Europe and the Middle East. Whether due to copyright and licensing issues or not, who knows? The details remain sketchy.
But never fear, the boys at Mal have applied the same principle of re-working design classics to new (outdoor) designs with sustained aplomb. Surely this summer’s greatest outdoor design accessory must be the MalClapchair (no, it won’t give you a nasty disease. It refers to Dutch parlance for a folding chair of the kind more commonly found on caravan sites). Inspired by the milestone chair of Dutch national legend Gerrit Rietveld, the MalClapchair is made of oak and the seat is made of water and UV-resistant canvas and arrives in a box of only 7kg. But, once again, if you’re going to want the best garden furniture on the block, you’ll have to move quickly: the design is a limited edition of only 88 and, as you can imagine, they’re flying out the door.