Sunday, July 12, 2009

Outdoor Lounging - The New Muskoka Chairs

The Muskoka Chair,,,,,synonymous with summertime, cottage life, and lakeside lounging. I’m sure you can instantly conjure up an image of the classic muskoka chair, no photo needed. Its iconic to say the least, and its image could be used as an international symbol for Canadian summer vacation.

I love traditional furniture,,,but painted wood and outdoor elements don’t often equate to carefree living. Idle relaxation is what these chairs are all about,,,,so for all the relaxation but non of the work associated with seasonal storage or maintenance, here’s a look at some of my favorite not so traditional looking muskoka chairs as well as some new and improved, eco friendly traditional versions.

For at least 2 years, I’ve had a photo postcard pinned up beside my desk – it’s a photo of this tourquoise, eye popping version of a mukoka chair. I picked it up at the One of a Kind show in Toronto where I’ve seen these chairs more than a few times. The makers of these chairs, Ian and Sandy Mackie share a love of design and the outdoors and offer 3 different chair styles under their company Jardinique. Jardinique builds Canadian climate-tested, classically inspired outdoor furniture that can live outdoors year round. They offer the chairs in any Benjamin Moore colour mixed in an outdoor industrial paint that's sprayed on over a primer. The chairs can be shipped anywhere in the world, each chair is shipped flat and ready to assemble with nothing more than a screwdriver and an hour or two to spare. First time customers report that assembling the chairs is easy.

The roundback lodge chair is based on a design that Ian and Sandy saw in Prince Edward County and reminded Sandy of fishing lodges she had visited in Quebec.

Jardinique's Westport chair - the Westport chair was originally designed by Thomas Lee in 1903. The design was patented in 1905. The brilliance of the design is in the angles of the seat to the back and the legs to the seat. The more the chair is sat on, the tighter and more solid the structure becomes. Also, Ian at Jardinique has ingeniously hidden all screws to prevent water penetration. Because of this, you will find none of the looseness typical of a Muskoka chair after a winter outdoors.

Probably the most remarked upon feature of these chairs are the ample arms! Measuring 8.5" wide.

Jardinique's Garden Chair is a re-design of an iconic Rietveld Chair. Gerhardt Rietveld, a Dutch architect, designed the original chair in 1918. One of these sits on display at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City.
For chair officianados, Jardinique's version is so much more comfortable and more sturdy.  The simple, yet effective alterations have maintained the look and feel of the original Rietveld Chair.

Loll Designs interpretation of this classic muskoka chair is clean, modern and eco friendly. Its durable, sustainable, all-weather - intended for advanced outdoor living. Its made of superior grade recycled polyethylene. Hidden fasteners enhance the clean lines. Below is the 3 slat and 4 slat Adirondak.

CR Plastics Products - Generation Line. Canadian made from recycled plastic. A more traditional looking muskoka chair without the maintenance.

Last month I travelled out to Peterborough for a meeting with a client, a construction detour took me in the opposite direction I was supposed to be headed and along this country road I happen to drive by the most colourful sight. There were thousands of muskoka chairs in every colour you could imagine. I pulled over, grabbed my camera and went to check it out. What I discovered was a company called Taylors Plastic. They manufacture outdoor furniture made from 100% Canadian recylced plastics and supply many retailers and resorts throughout the country. The plastic material is recycled in Ontario from 90% post consumer products, is non toxic and UV resistant. They make a classic muskoka chair, bar stools, tables, rockers and benches. The muskoka chairs weight about 50lbs and they now make a foldable version so they are easier to store away. Since discovering this company, I've come across their product in quite a few upscale garden shops in Toronto, but you can purchase direct from Taylors and they offer country wide delivery.

Although the chairs are available in a range of colours, in this product I prefer the white and the light blues. What you'll notice on the darker colours is a whitish graining in the material which makes it look like plastic even from a short distance. With the white however, its impossible to tell its plastic unless you touch it.

Photos: Loll Designs, Jardinique (10), Loll Designs (7), CR Plastics (3), Carol Reed (3)

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