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Modular Canopy Design Sparks Industry Interest

Infinity_CanopyAlan Shargani, founder of Infinity Canopy Inc, Los Angeles, worked on his modular canopy design for three years before it was ready for release. Hard work paid off when he debuted his product line in October 2014 at the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) Expo.

The Infinity Canopy won IFAI’s award for Best New Product in the Shade Category, and followed up that honor with an Attendees’ Choice prize for Outdoor Living Product Marketability at the recently concluded HPBExpo in Nashville.

Prior to Infinity’s modular concept, the style of canopy pictured (upper left) was usually custom made. “It would require someone to measure, figure out where to run cables, then make the canopy and install it,” says Shargani. “Since the Infinity Canopy is modular, you don’t have to figure out where the cable is going because everything can be adjusted.

Infinity_Two“The individual parts come together to build a canopy that is as long as you want, and as wide as you want,” he continues. “The shade panels are individual parts. The owner can have one color or multi-color, or create interesting designs. Compared to everything else that is out there, this is the most dynamic canopy on the market.”

In situations where a branch goes through, or repair is needed, owners can take the panel out, buy a new one, and put it in. “You can always update and upgrade your canopy,” adds Shargani. “You can make it red, white, and blue for the fourth of July. You can take it with you, because it is not made for a specific structure.”

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by Carol Daus

Spring has sprung, which brings a smile to many faces. For those in the outdoor-living industry, it’s the best time of year: Consumers increase their spending on casual furniture, grills, and outdoor accessories. For baseball fans like me, this is a glorious time, as Major League Baseball (MLB) makes its annual return.

Given the profusion of exciting products attracting customers’ attention (combined with increased consumer spending and a stronger economy), I am confident that this will be a winning season for specialty retailers in the outdoor-living industry. I wish that I could be as confident about my Chicago Cubs’ bid for a 2015 playoff spot, despite the team’s new manager, new pitching ace, and renovated stadium.

Cub_PhotoWhy would anyone be loyal to a team with a 107-year World Series drought? Being a Cubs fan is akin to being a middle-aged woman searching for a soul mate on She endures countless dates at wine bars and Starbucks, and ultimately, she might never find Mr. Right. I admit that after five decades of rooting for the Cubs, I’ve experienced my share of frustration and heartbreak. Being a Cubs fan, however, has never really been about winning. Like the middle-aged woman who learns to live without her prince, I’m OK supporting a team that might never secure a World Series title.

For me, being a Cubs fan has always been about my connection to the Cubs through my family and friends, as well as through memories of rooting for them, especially as a child and young adult. I loved those sun-drenched afternoons in the bleachers of the Friendly Confines, sitting alongside my dad and cheering on our lovable losers. In 1980, I even moved to Wrigleyville, just blocks away from Wrigley Field, in order to attend more games.

CDaus_1The start of this year’s baseball season has made me more reflective than usual because of the recent death of Ernest (Ernie) Banks (1931–2015), the Cubs’ legendary shortstop and eternal optimist, who is remembered fondly for his mantra, “It’s a beautiful day for a ball game: Let’s play two!” Banks embodied the true spirit of what it means to be a Cubs fan. Each spring, Banks predicted a pennant for the Cubs, who had not won a World Series since 1908 or a National League title since 1945. He was nicknamed Mr. Sunshine due to his positive and personable nature, long before his other nickname—Mr. Cub—stuck.

Banks’ infectious smile, good-natured sense of humor, and enthusiasm were traits that fans and fellow players witnessed both on and off the field. About 20 years ago, I was thrilled to meet him at a charity golf tournament. When I told him that I was frequently at the games in the 1960s and 1970s, cheering him on as he joined the MLB’s 500 home run club, he thanked me profusely for being such a loyal fan, even though the team was unable to get into the playoffs. I’ll never forget the warm, heartfelt smile that accompanied his words.

Many people I know have their own Ernie Banks stories. In the early 1990s, Patio & Hearth Products Report’s publisher, Tony Ramos, was standing in line at a health-food store in Marina del Rey, California, when a man standing behind him asked, “How are you doing, young man?” Just after Ramos replied, the man began singing “White Christmas” in a loud baritone voice. Afterward, he nodded, smiled widely, and wished everyone in the store a merry Christmas. Ramos learned from the cashier that the man was Banks.

According to Malcolm Gladwell, author of “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” (Little, Brown and Company, 2005) and other best-selling books, first impressions occur instantaneously (or within two seconds). A genuine smile—combined with a friendly hello—is retailers’ best strategy for ensuring that customers make purchases at their stores, instead of at competitors’ stores down the street. It’s amazing to see how many retailers show indifference when potential paying customers walk into their stores. Surveys have shown that this lack of interest is one of the biggest reasons that people don’t return to a business.

Banks’ ability to connect with people serves as a model for those in retail environments who want to stand out and be memorable to customers. It doesn’t cost anything to acknowledge and smile at customers, even if those customers don’t purchase anything on one occasion; they might return, and they might recommend the store to others. By being welcoming, friendly, and helpful within those first two seconds of a customer’s visit, you are planting the seeds of a long-term business relationship.

Carol Daus is the editor of Patio & Hearth Products Report. She can be reached at

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Sunbrella’s Caravan Collection Captures the Beauty of Morocco

Frinier_PhotoGlen Raven recently introduced its Caravan collection of Sunbrella® fabrics, representing the company’s latest collaboration with renowned designer Richard Frinier (pictured, upper left). The fabrics are easy to incorporate into living spaces with modern, transitional, and traditional styles, as well as into residential or hospitality environments.

The Caravan collection is currently available through interior- and exterior-furnishings manufacturers. It includes two new base-cloth constructions (Sahara and Desert) and five decorative and coordinating patterns (Casbah, Bazaar, Berber, Medina, and Nomadic), each presented in authentic color palettes to create distinctive living spaces. Patio & Hearth Products Report recently sat down with Frinier to learn more about the inspiration behind these lovely fabrics.

How did your travels to Morocco lead to your development of the Caravan collection?
Frinier: My first trip to Morocco was in June 1967. I traveled alone, on a motorcycle, from London that summer, and I spent two very amazing weeks in what was, for me, my most exotic and memorable cultural experience and adventure. Tangiers, Casablanca, Fez, Meknès, and Marrakech each had unique architecture and character. The edge of the Sahara and the deserted coastline were scenes from another era.

Caravan from the Richard Frinier collection for Sunbrella®.

Caravan from the Richard Frinier collection for Sunbrella®.

When I ran low on gas, I pulled off the road into a small village. It seemed that all activities stopped, and I was surrounded by curious villagers as if I had just arrived from the future. When I unscrewed my gas cap and gestured that I wanted to buy some gas, a can appeared. They waved and cheered as I revved the engine and rode on my way.

What makes Moroccan designs different from those of other countries, in terms of their outdoor-living applications?
Frinier: In Marrakech, I stayed at the Grand Hotel, across from the Grand Plaza, in the heart of the city. The rooms had no air conditioning; rather, the walls of each room stopped short of the ceiling, where fans circulated the air. Even in June, few went outside, as the daytime temperatures are above 100 degrees. Fabric awnings and umbrellas on rooftop terraces and the water fountains in the courtyards cool many residences in the city, but it is at night that life in the city comes alive.

What makes the Caravan collection unique?
Frinier: The Caravan collection takes its name from the camel trains that were still crossing the Sahara during my first journey to Morocco. These exotic trade routes and the nomadic life of the Bedouin tribes led to my inspiration to create this collection. My focus, in this collection, was to reinterpret the handloomed textiles woven over the past century by the Beni Ourain tribes of nomadic sheep herders.

Wool from their sheep is left natural. Wool from the black and brown sheep creates a contrast to the predominantly unbleached white fiber. These nomadic tribes (who live on the eastern slopes of the Atlas mountains) weave textiles that are almost primitive in pattern, in contrast to the bold geometrics and bright colors typically woven in Fez.

More samples of Caravan from the Richard Frinier collection for Sunbrella®.

More samples of Caravan from the Richard Frinier collection for Sunbrella®.

What makes the Caravan collection suitable for outdoor home and hospitality use?
Frinier: I believe the textural constructions, ethnic patterns, and tonal colorways are unique and add timeless and authentic styling—for both residential and hospitality environments. The fabrics have a vintage appeal, gently irregular and perfectly imperfect by design. The crafting of the original, handmade Beni Ourain tribal rugs has been passed along for generations; the rugs were popularized by Le Corbusier (Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, 1887–1965) during the Midcentury Modern architectural movement.

Architects and designers are on the lookout for a touch of the exotic. Accent pillows, ottomans, and upholstery provide the perfect effect to incorporate personality into interior and exterior design environments.

Why was Glen Raven/Sunbrella the appropriate textile manufacturer for your collaboration on Moroccan-inspired designs?
Frinier: I have been working with Glen Raven’s Sunbrella brand for nearly three decades, and there is no finer weaver of performance fabric than Glen Raven. Aside from the authentic design motifs, textures, and colorways we were able to achieve, the durability, fade resistance, and cleanability of Sunbrella textiles is second to none. The company is simply the best at what it does.

How can these fabrics can be used in outdoor settings?
Frinier: In addition to being used for upholstery, pillows, and poufs, fabrics in the Caravan collection can enhance the outdoor room with drapery, curtains, awnings, and umbrella textiles. Patterns from this collection can be sewn into tablecloths and slipcovers. Sunbrella fabrics are perfect for indoor applications, too, as they make everyday-living items much easier to keep clean.

What plans are there for your Moroccan designs?
Frinier: The Caravan collection is currently being presented to Sunbrella’s customers. Depending on the success of the collection, more colors and additional patterns will follow. As for my interest in Moroccan crafts, I have designed collections for Dedon inspired by my adventures in Morocco, including its now classic Daydream daybed and its Marrakesh collection; both continue to be available to the trade.

In the future, there will always be a place to show my affection and inspiration, reminding me of my travels in Morocco. Being there is such a sensate experience that it really never leaves—so I can say that from time to time, the essence of my travel experiences in Morocco will appear in certain design details, when the spirit moves me or the design calls for such a unique and romantic character.

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Twin Eagles Unveils Innovative Grill at HPBExpo

Attendees at the recent HPBExpo got a look at a new Twin Eagles grill, which includes many groundbreaking product features. “This unique grill will not replace our current premium grill offering, but it represents a step above what is currently in our line,” says Brian Eskew, head of marketing for Twin Eagles.

HPBExpo attendees who examined the new grill were overwhelmingly positive about the soon-to-be-named grill. “We heard a lot of ‘wows’ and ‘I love it’ in addition to ‘We didn’t think there was much else you could do in a high-end category that makes sense, but you did,’” said Eskew.

Twin Eagles blog photoIn addition to a redesigned front hood and handle, the new grill offers control illumination that features a continuous gradient illumination of the control panel for nighttime grilling, and a separate system that illuminates the control knobs and control knob temperature settings. “The illumination looks beautiful and is extremely functional, because you can see the entire control panel and the control knob settings very clearly,” explains Eskew.

Another innovative feature is a zone and overall temperature reading that allows users to determine the intensity of the heat at each burner, as well as the average grill surface temperature. Each burner zone is equipped with a thermocouple and each control knob has an LED indicator light above the knob.

When the burner is ignited, the LED is blue. When the burner reaches 140 degrees, the LED changes to yellow, then orange, and then red as the temperature increases. There are three color intensities that correspond with the temperature. Each of the nine color intensities indicates an approximate 50 to 70 degree increase in temperature. The same system is used in a flush, integrated bar of LEDs on the face of the control panel to indicate the average grill surface temperature.

“We want consumers to understand the intensity of heat at each burner and across the entire cooking surface,” says Eskew. “This innovation eliminates the need for an analog temperature gauge that really only tells you how hot the air is under the lid when it is closed.”

An integrated smoke removal system is also incorporated into the unit, which uses two integrated fans to pull smoke to the back of the grill surface and then releases it through two adjustable vents on the left and right sides of the grill. “This means there’s no more watery eyes or clothing that smells like what you prepared for dinner,” says Eskew.

The new grill also includes an integrated rotisserie motor with two spit rod positions and an infrared rotisserie burner behind glass.  This new feature eliminates the exposed rotisserie motor and incorporates it into the unit with a direct metal chain drive, offering a more convenient and attractive design.  “We have also incorporated storage for the spit rod into the drip tray handle, and the rear infrared rotisserie burner is behind glass to protect it from debris and wind interference,” says Eskew.  

According to Eskew, no other grill on the market has this unit’s level of control illumination, temperature sensing, or smoke removal. He stresses that the combination of these features deliver intuitive benefits and impeccable style. “We have a great team of engineers, and this new product is a testament to their talent and the Twin Eagles spirit of innovation.”

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New Offering from Twin-Star Home Furnishings Combines an Infrared Quartz Heater with Digital Stereo

DELRAY BEACH, FL – Twin-Star Home Furnishings is combining a POWERHEAT® infrared quartz electric heater that can provide supplemental heat for up to 1,000 square feet and Bell’O Digital® sound system with Bluetooth capability to create a space saving home solution.

Solo is 8.25 inches deep by 15.75 inches wide by 40.95 inches tall. The POWERHEAT® infrared heater provides
quiet operation and delivers moist, healthy heat to retain the room’s natural humidity. Solo has a realistic flame effect, which can be used year round with or without heat for four seasons of enjoyment.

HeaterIt comes fully assembled out of the box, just simply plug it into any standard 120V outlet and power it on to enjoy the warmth and ambiance of Solo. Solo is equipped with Safer Plug™ technology, which is a safety feature within Solo’s plug that has a built-in thermostat that continuously monitors the plug’s temperature and will automatically turn off if it detects an unsafe rise in temperature.

In addition to adding ambiance and heat to the room, Solo also offers crystal clear, high quality audio with Bell’O Digital sound. The six-speaker sound system has 4 mid-range speakers, two tweeters and two powered subwoofers with adjustable bass and treble. The compact design fills even the largest rooms with stunning audio – and because Solo is Bluetooth-enabled, you can stream music from your library or popular music services like Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora wirelessly from your phone, tablet or music player.

Solo is also capable of bringing music to life with the 3.5 mm stereo input for wired audio playback. The Solo multi-function remote control manages the heat, flame effect and music from across the room.

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Five Outdoor Kitchens That Will Have You Wishing It Was Summer

by Chris Mordi

Even though we’re still in the long grip of winter, we can dream about warm breezes blowing, something cooking on the grill and the smell of it riding on those breezes. Summer. It’ll get here someday. In the meantime, here are some inspiring outdoor kitchens that will have you looking forward to those warm days of cookouts and gathered friends.
Kalamazoo_Photo_2This Bethesda, Maryland, outdoor kitchen (left) is located out in the elements, but features several creature comforts. A ceiling fan built into the pergola keeps the air moving on hot Mid-Atlantic days. A retractable shade between the pergola boards keeps the sun at bay. When the nights grow chilly, a heater above the K750HB Hybrid Fire Grill rains down warmth while overhead lighting keeps the kitchen properly illuminated.
Kalamazoo_Photo_1Sitting atop a hill and overlooking an apple orchard in Connecticut this is more like an indoor kitchen that came outside. Outdoor kitchens aren’t always about cooking. They’re also gathering and party places. This kitchen features a large flat-screen TV on the wall and a speaker system mounted into the ceiling – perfect for watching football games or red-carpet events. The Artisan Fire Pizza Oven in the corner and the dual-headed beer tapper make the ultimate party food and drink easily available.
Kalamazoo_Photo_3_CoralGablesMany homeowners want indoor conveniences in their outdoor kitchens. This space in Coral Gables, Florida, features an outdoor-rated dishwasher, two sets of refrigerated drawers and a pot-filler faucet over the two cooktops to the left of the grill. By bringing amenities normally found in indoor kitchens into the outdoors, storage, prep, cooking, serving and cleanup are made easier and more convenient, giving homeowners more time to spend with their guests.

Eades home, Chicago Illinois, for Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet.This Midwestern outdoor kitchen is all about cooking and the space needed to do it. A massive limestone countertop makes it easy and efficient by giving the cook enough room to stack plates for guests as well as platters for putting food on the grill and taking it off. A storage cabinet to the left of the grill gives the cook easy access to tools, charcoal and linens.

Hawaii 8 - 2013- Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet KitchenA cheeseburger in paradise? Hanalei on the Hawaiian island of Kauai is the location of this outdoor kitchen. The scenery that surrounds an outdoor kitchen can be every bit as important as its design and layout. Each of the outdoor kitchens in this post is made more beautiful and livable by its thoughtful incorporation into the landscape. Who doesn’t like a cheeseburger or a pizza with a view of the Pacific Ocean, a beautiful woods, lawn or a relaxing pool?

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Ask the Expert: Tips and Trends In Outdoor Design

by Ryan Hughes

Enjoyment of the out-of-doors and personal outdoor spaces is central to living in southern Florida and whatever the scope of your real estate or resources options abound for creating the perfect outdoor living area.

We discussed with Ryan Hughes, owner off Ryan Hughes Design/Build, an award-winning exterior builder, designer and landscape professional and a recognized leader in the exterior design field, tips and trends for creating outdoor spaces guaranteed to provide lasting leisure and enjoyment on any budget.

Hughes_Photo_1Personalize the Outdoor Plan
As with any project, planning is key. Whether simple landscaping to infinity pools, outdoor space planning requires examining the reality of the space parameters, desired use and overall outdoor living goals. The personalization of the plan can draw upon personal style and inspiration from the homeowner’s travels or life experiences. Ultimately, the most successful plan for outdoor living must include functionality and options for the desired use whether entertaining, relaxing or just family fun.

Extend The Indoors Out
A factor in outdoor design planning is the extension of a home’s interior design motif to the out of doors. From hardscapes to furnishings, focal points to color stories, exterior design can mirror interior design with styles from contemporary to old world, traditional to casual chic. Changing up the design scheme to create contrast can also provide a ice departure and a unique feel to the outdoors.

Explore The Elements of Nature
In creating an outdoor design, capitalizing on the natural elements that abound is a strategy for success. Whether sun or water, fire or flora, the use of multiple nature-focused elements within an outdoor space can add drama and create greater overall appeal. Stone fountains to infinity swimming pools, fire pots to rock hearths, there are numerous additions that can be made to any outdoor space to emphasize elements in nature.

Hughes_Photo_2Create Outdoor Rooms
Trending in outdoor design is the creation of outdoor rooms. From simply grouping furnishings to the construction of pergolas with columns and full kitchens, the sky can be the limit in outdoor rooms.

Outdoor trends
A growing trend in outdoor design also includes the addition of modern technology from performance fabrics to designer hardscapes. By incorporating the latest in modern achievements, unique materials, trending color ways and textural and landscaping elements, one-of-a-kind outdoor décor are being created. Another popular trend that is being included in outdoor design of every size are fire features. Fire tables, fire places and fire pots of all sizes and styles are easily added to warm up an outdoor space.

Professional Assistance
Many outdoor design projects can be undertaken by the homeowner. For projects beyond the scope of the homeowner, the use of a professional design build firm or landscape architect is recommended. Safety issues involved with outdoor features as well as space planning or knowledge of industry standards can require the expertise a professional can provide.

Hughes_Photo_3Blog Extra: Ask the Expert
For nearly two decades, Ryan Hughes has designed and built imaginative and elegant outdoor living spaces. His focus on outdoor design comes naturally as the son of a recognized Florida landscape design pioneer. With work representing more than $100 million for his clients and projects including custom designed pools, signature landscaping, and original water and fire features, he is an expert in his field. Ryan’s work has earned him multiple industry awards and has been featured in such publications as the “Dream Homes Series” and “Perspectives on Design.

With vast experience in Pool Engineering, Pool Construction and Outdoor Living Space Project Management, Ryan’s technical knowledge is second only to his design vision and sought after creativity. Exploring his expertise can benefit the luxury homeowner to the back-yard do-it-yourselfer.

What inspires your outdoor living designs?

I have been fortunate enough to have traveled the world from an early age. From those travels, I have been able to translate a global perspective and take inspiration from international venues and lifestyles. These cultural experiences and architectural influences have enabled a diversity of styles that is evidenced across our portfolio. These impressions also have become a driving force behind my passion to create the most unique, innovative swimming pools and outdoor living spaces anywhere.

As the principle in a successful design build company in Florida, can you share your company’s design philosophy?
Our design philosophy can be defined as capturing and creating “Artistry of Space.” With this philosophy, our clients’ design vision and our team’s knowledge and expertise come together to create personal outdoor spaces that are inviting, comfortable, safe and long lasting. Our team works to incorporate the classic design principles of proportion and balance and expert space planning within each product to create exteriors that are not only beautiful but also deliver proven functionality.

Hughes_Photo_4What are the most important components when creating an outdoor living space?
Although our history includes the creation of award-winning swimming pools and water-scapes, we realize that pools are just one component in any luxury outdoor living area. My team is knowledgeable in the full scope of outdoor design and the use of elements and features from tranquil pools to dynamic outdoor kitchens; relaxation points to the warmth and sparkle of fire pits. Our outdoor living designs comprise original viewpoints; each with a specific purpose and personal appeal. For any homeowner, their vision needs to be incorporated. That may include water, seating, fire or landscaping elements. The object is to create a space that is a perfect fit for their lifestyle.

How does your design process begin?
Our design process begins with learning about each client’s style preferences and vision for their outdoor living space. We strive to understand the scope of how they want to use the use of the space and the desired feel. We spend a lot of time listening and create cooperative planning model to bring together the desired elements that work within the space and their outdoor living goals.

What styles are trending in outdoor design?
Outdoor living is mirroring interior design as styles can span from old world to contemporary, traditional to casual. We are seeing in our work, however, a growing trend in the addition of modern technology in outdoors including performance fabrics to designer hardscapes. By incorporating the latest in modern technology as well as unique materials, trending color ways and textural and landscaping elements, one-of-a-kind outdoor décor can be created.

Does your process only include the structural and landscaping elements?
We work with each of our clients in whatever manner they require. For some, it may end with the completed hardscapes or landscapes. For others, we pull together the entire outdoor décor design with the addition of outdoor furnishings and accessories. In today’s outdoor living category, there are so many options from outdoor rugs and lighting to outdoor electronics and of course the very popular outdoor kitchen elements. Outdoor décor has come a long way from only a table and four chairs.

How do you keep current on all the new products and technology in outdoor living and outdoor décor?
We are active within industry organizations and attend national and international trade shows to keep current on what is happening in this category. It is an exciting time in outdoor and our firm is proud to be a part of adding the artistry to outdoor living. .

Ryan Hughes is founder/owner of Ryan Hughes Design/Build, Palm Harbor, Fla.


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