Over 154 Years of Service to the Furniture Industry
 Furniture World Logo

Outdoor Fabric Trends

Furniture World Magazine


Interview with Greg Voorhis, Executive Design Director, Glen Raven

For this outdoor furniture-focused issue, Furniture World asked Greg Voorhis, executive design director at Glen Raven, to review the benefits consumers expect from fabrics used in their outdoor spaces, keeping in mind the attributes he and his team build into the fabric they create.

Glen Raven produces fabrics for home and industrial uses, including the well-known performance fabric, Sunbrella. Introduced in 1961 as a shade product for awnings, Sunbrella has evolved to incorporate novelty yarns used for outdoor and indoor home furnishings.

Voorhis explained that not only are performance fabrics an investment in the look and feel of a space, but they’re also a functional investment in peace of mind. “Today’s outdoor fabrics must be highly usable to stand up to everyday life, maintaining both performance and comfort standards without compromise for years to come,” he said. “These are some of the qualities our design staff, R&D, sales, marketing and manufacturing teams keep in mind. For us, performance starts at the fiber level with each fiber of every yarn saturated to its core with UV-stable pigments. This means the vibrant color does not fade and the fabrics retain the same look and feel over time even after continual cleaning and usage.”

Outdoor Color Trends

Moving on to a discussion of fabric trends retailers might look for at the upcoming Casual Show in Atlanta, Voorhis observed, “We’re seeing a lot of green right now. Also, an interest in warmer colors that are a little less gray. While important, these observations don’t mean that grays, blues and red tones will disappear from the marketplace, because there are so many nuances to what consumers are looking for.”


“Texture is critical to indoor and outdoor fabrics today. Consumers are experimenting with texture and prioritizing pieces that will last from season to season. Specifically, we’re seeing a greater interest in boucles that are a little tighter in texture than some of their indoor counterparts. Multicolor fabrics that incorporate unique and varied textures are very popular in the outdoor market.

“Consumers are more focused than ever on the comfort of their outdoor furnishings, including outdoor fabrics. Our new novelty yarn plant has expanded our capabilities to create these highly textural, soft yarns such as plush chenilles, nubby slubs and luxurious boucles to ensure we address this ongoing desire for texture and comfort.

“People want to mix and match using different layers, styles, colors and patterns. On retail floors, pillows are proliferating with diverse patterns that stand out against the cushion backdrops. This includes jacquards mixed with stripes, and heavy textures.”

“Multicolor fabrics that simulate texture and linen looks are very popular in the outdoor market. Also, boucles that are a little tighter in texture than some of their indoor cousins.”

Luxury Redefined

“Our team finds inspiration from global influences and cultural observations. These insights inform our understanding of the innovations and opportunities impacting the upholstery space,” Voorhis noted. “For example, the idea of luxury is being redefined to be more inclusive. We’re seeing a desire from consumers to purchase bespoke pieces and long-lasting, sustainable designs that feel timeless and luxurious. In addition, a preference for filtered hues complemented by dynamic forms and jacquards that are designed for layering to bring depth, richness and materiality to living spaces.”

Sustainable Design

Another theme Voorhis highlighted is the ongoing discussion of sustainability and the importance of creating fabrics that support the circular economy. “Sustainability is not a buzzword at Sunbrella—it’s something we talk about quite a lot and have prioritized for decades. Sustainable designs that support the circular economy will become more important each year, not only for fabrics but also for every aspect of the furniture industry,” he observed. “We recently launched our latest collaboration with designer and artist Richard Frinier. Our work with Richard spans more than 20 years, and during the past five years, it has focused on developing fabrics with a sustainable appeal, all of which incorporate post-industrial Sunbrella acrylic through a process that recycles selvage waste by reverting the waste to fiber before making it into a yarn that is woven back into fabric. All of these fabrics contain at least 20 percent recycled material and feature some combination of recycled acrylic, recycled polyester and virgin acrylic yarns.

“Consumers have become increasingly informed about the materials they bring into their homes.” In practice, this means products made with recycled materials are becoming an expectation. “As this expectation has grown,” Voorhis concluded, “it’s accompanied by a recognition of the beauty of re-purposed or recycled materials.”

“People want to mix and match with different layers, styles, colors and patterns. On retail floors, pillows are proliferating with diverse patterns standing out against the cushion backdrops. Included are jacquards mixed with stripes, and heavy textures.”


Furniture World is the oldest, continuously published trade publication in the United States. It is published for the benefit of furniture retail executives. Print circulation of 20,000 is directed primarily to furniture retailers in the US and Canada.  In 1970, the magazine established and endowed the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library (www.furniturelibrary.com) in High Point, NC, now a public foundation containing more than 5,000 books on furniture and design dating from 1620. For more information contact editor@furninfo.com.