The Traditional Outdoor Furniture Challenge

Rives sits beside our Hatfield Bench on the grounds of Elm Street Gardens in Sparta.
Rives sits beside our Hatfield Bench on the grounds of Elm Street Gardens in Sparta.

Opening her article for The Wall Street Journal titled “A Plea for Traditional Outdoor Furniture,” Michelle Slatalla shares how a misshapen rattan side table that had weathered badly caused her to knock over a perfect gin and tonic, and break a beautiful Dorothy Thorpe glass. This led her to search for better quality traditional outdoor furniture that would complement her 1920s-era Spanish Colonial bungalow. Her initial online search netted her nada. 

Our Elwynn Large Bench, which The Wall Street Journal featured in May 2022.
Our Elwynn Large Bench, which The Wall Street Journal featured in May 2022.

The Hunt for Traditional Outdoor Furniture

She tapped Currey & Company as one of the manufacturers of outdoor furniture that would fit her taste and her desire for quality, interviewing our President Brownlee Currey about coming up empty handed when she tried to find stylish traditional outdoor furniture. Because she chose to feature our faux bois, the images that illustrate this post are of some of our most artful pieces within this collection. 

Among our popular pieces of traditional outdoor furniture is our Leagrave Small Bench.
Among our popular pieces of traditional outdoor furniture pieces is our Leagrave Small Bench.

In kicking off the narrative revealing her frustration, Slatalla wrote, “‘Where did all the traditional-style outdoor furniture go?’ I asked Brownlee Currey, president of Atlanta-based home furnishings manufacturer Currey & Company. He explained that as outdoor-furniture manufacturing went overseas years ago, it was geared to suit the mass-production needs of big-box stores. ‘Designs got simplified, and a lot of the midrange guys who made more traditional styles went out of business,’ he said.”

The Woodland Bench with its characteristic “fake wood” markings.
The Woodland Bench with its characteristic “fake wood” markings.  

She cited this as the reason contemporary designs are here to stay for a while, quoting Brownlee as saying, “It would be a five-year process to change the tooling and equipment used in manufacture. It’s not easy to change, like fashions in clothing. We’ll see hemlines move next season but not styles of outdoor furniture.” Noting that we are one of the exceptions in that we manufacture high-end outdoor furnishings, she deems our faux bois pieces charming. 

The Creekside Console Table is among our popular traditional outdoor furniture offerings.
The Creekside Console Table is among our popular traditional outdoor furniture offerings.

Slatalla chose our Elwynn Bench as an example, quoting Brownlee as saying, “Faux bois is a lovely niche business, but it’s never going to be the biggest category in outdoor furniture because it’s so heavy—expensive to transport and hard to move around once you have it in the garden.” The other industry professional Slatalla quoted is Janice Feldman, the furniture designer who founded her high-end outdoor-furnishings company Janus et Cie in Los Angeles in 1978. We are thrilled to have been featured in such an esteemed publication, particularly given we are in such great company with Janus et Cie.

The Magic of Faux Bois

The Elwynn large bench is featured in Frederic magazine.
The Elwynn large bench is featured in Frederic magazine.

The Elwynn is definitely having its 15-minutes of fame lately, as our larger version made the “Short List” in Frederic magazine, as you can see above. Both the large and small benches appear to be growing up from the ground. The heavy concrete construction of these faux bois benches makes thema fantastic additions to a garden or to other outdoor and indoor spaces. The length of the large bench can comfortably seat up to four people. The smaller bench comfortably seats two.

Our ever-popular Oyster Shell Birdbath dripping with greenery during Dallas Market, fitting in any setting with traditional outdoor furniture.
Our ever-popular Oyster Shell Birdbath dripping with greenery during Dallas Market.

Robert Currey’s initial passion for faux bois launched us into our exploration of the traditional French “fake wood” style decades ago. Now, not only do we have furniture, we have lighting and accessories.