With stressful lives and high pressure jobs, it is important to find the time and place during the day to loosen up. People in Pakistan are often so busy that they often forget to stop and smell the rosses. Outdoor places like gardens, balconies and verandas not only enhance the beauty and architectural majesty of a house, they also provide a place for people to take a step back from their tiring schedules and withdraw into a peaceful, tranquil utopia.
In the West, outdoor patios, porches and backyards, decorated with teak bars, benches, wagon wheel ben-ches and patio tables add to the charm of the house. This same trend is catching on in Pakistan and many furniture shops and interior designers are also offering their skill and expertise to help people better utilise open spaces.
Whether it is the scorching sun, treacherous winds or heavy rainfall, outdoor furniture should be made to resist nature. Fareed Hamza of Home Kraft says, “For outdoor furniture, we use sandstone, fibre glass and wood as they are durable, weather-resistant, in addition to being aesthetically pleasing.” Meanwhile designer Ainee Shehzad believes that, “It is important that the furniture merges with the landscape outside and is in sync with nature. Materials such as wood, stone and fibre glass should be used because they look beautiful and are weather-resistant.” Designer of private design company Le Mosque Elan Humaira Hayat feels, “Normally, outdoor furniture is an extension of the general theme of the entire house; however, other factors such as durability and client preference are also crucial.” She further adds, “For patios and gardens, we use wrought iron and stone. Wood can also be used; however, it is not the best material since wind and water exposure often damage and crack the wood.”
Decorating a garden or terrace is very different from furnishing a living room. Hamza claims that for an important project which includes “providing garden equipment like benches, canopy, columns, planters, three basic things are required: it should be aesthetically pleasing, it must have a useful practical purpose and should be economical for the client.”
Highlighting the differences in outdoor and indoor furniture, Shehzad says, “If there is a bench made for indoors, it will be intricately carved and more delicate, whereas furniture for the outdoors is more rugged and rustic.” Meanwhile, furniture expert Beena Asim, who has been involved in furniture designing for the past eight years, states, “I design according to my client’s personality. Some people want a completely ethnic look while others want a modern look. So I do both contemporary and classic designing.”
Investing in outdoor living is definitely a useful venture. Luxurious sofas, relaxing armchairs and outdoor grills for a sizzling barbeque are not the only advantages of having a well-furnished garden. Shehzad underscores the importance of the outdoors: “If your surroundings are beautiful, you feel beautiful. Karachi has pleasant evenings that should be enjoyed instead of spent indoors in the air conditioner. People are definitely becoming more aware of a comfortable and stylish outdoor living.” Hamza adds to this, “In a country like Pakistan where the concept of maintaining a lawn is not so popular, it is extremely important to have garden furniture so that people get a chance to spend time in the fresh air. This trend is rapidly growing as education and awareness is increasing and people are investing more in garden furniture.” Sharing the same opinion, Hayat says, “We live trapped in concrete walls, tiles and breathe artificial air from air conditioners. Therefore, spending more time with nature and getting fresh air is very important.”
However, she notes that purchasing of outdoor furniture is not because people are fond of nature but because it is an extension of the interior design. “I’m a strong exponent of being close to nature but, unfortunately, despite having decorated patios and beautiful gardens, many people do not spend time outdoors and are not connected with nature.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2011.