An interview with Steve Bennett, 30-year veteran in Retail & Wholesale Furniture - Summer Classics Director of Sales Development


Q.  Steve, we all remember outdoor furniture starting from the time we were kids.  And old family photos show it present many years prior.  How far back does outdoor furniture really date?

A.  Outdoor furniture has been around since the Romans. Ever-evolving through the centuries with the use of different materials and styles. Natural materials like reeds and vines—fine carved woods and stones—marble—brass—even gold-- have been used by the finest craftsmen available to create special outdoor furniture for the elite. Very fine furniture—indoors and out—has historically been the most basic of status symbols. 

Q.  The Roman Empire began over 2,000 years ago.  So what is it about today's home that seems to be driving the huge demand for craftsmen-quality outdoor furnishings? 

A.  OK, so let's fast forward to the 21st century. The architecture of finer homes now lend much more attention to outdoor spaces with opportunities to showcase and enjoy fine outdoor furniture. More than just a status symbol, these outdoor furnished spaces—Arbors—balconies—covered spaces—outdoor kitchens—special poolside spaces—each provide an expanded casual living addition to the primary home.  Outdoor furniture manufacturers have had to dramatically rethink and redesign in order to furnish these “outdoor rooms”. 

Q.  Can you give us an example of what you mean by the rethinking and redesigning you describe?

A.  Absolutely.  A properly furnished and designed outdoor space will provide a seamless transition of fashion from the family room or great room to the outdoors. Necessarily then, the evolution of fashionable and durable “high performance” fabrics has greatly impacted casual fashion outdoors. Manufacturers have now designed highly crafted—comfortable—durable casual furniture to meet these high standards.  And companies like Summer Classics lead this innovation curve in order to meet and exceed customer expectations for form, function, fashion and enduring value.

Q.  That term, "Enduring Value" is interesting.  Can you elaborate? 

A.  Great point.  Indeed, fine outdoor furniture can be a considerable investment. You want it to be not only timeless in style, but ultimately durable and long-lasting to the elements.  Generally speaking, comfort and durability are sacrificed first when that "enduring value" equation is ignored.  In that respect, retailers like Seville Home can be invaluable in guiding homeowners to the right choices. Seville Home’s buyers spend countless days attending markets and shows searching for fashion-forward and durable outdoor furniture for their clients (not talking white plastic chairs anymore). 

Q.  If we wanted a few specifics regarding how Summer Classics sets itself apart to create enduring value, what would you highlight?

A.  Well, there are many, but here are a few highlights . . .

  • Our high-performance outdoor wicker (many styles and colors) has an unusually high resistance to fading and other outdoor elements. This high UV rating is costly to create—the furniture in the big box stores will not have this element.

  • Our fabric selections for 2019 include 149 selections grouped in “color stories”. And many of our fabrics have been created exclusively for Summer Classics by Sunbrella,

  • Our “Dream Cushions” are unparalleled in comfort and durability—with a 1.8 density memory foam. Not so at the big box stores.

  • Our aluminum items are specially created from a superior aluminum alloy—properly designed—engineered—reinforced. Not so at the big box stores.

  • Our paint finishes also have one of the highest UV protocols in the industry—an architectural grade material.

  • Our teak furniture is sustainably harvested from the finest teak available.

  • Every cushion we make is digitally archived to allow a homeowner to refresh their furniture with new cushions and fabrics every 5 to 7 years and over the life of their frames. Perfect fits are assured.

I could go on, but I encourage shoppers to really put in the time to see and feel the differences for themselves. A few minutes sitting on and seeing the details in person will form a lasting impression.

Q. We're right in the middle of the outdoor living season. This is the time many homeowners are upgrading or buying outdoor furnishings for the first time. Any final thoughts or suggestions you'd offer in order to help them avoid making costly mistakes?

A.  Certainly.  First, enjoy your outdoor spaces to the maximum degree.  They are an essential part of how we live and how we refresh from the fast pace of life.  But make the best choices when it comes to furnishing those spaces.  Here's why. There's a reason some outdoor furniture is inexpensive. It will fade—crack and peel—rust–and fail– in full exposure in one or two seasons. Highly engineered lines like Summer Classics furniture are crafted from the finest materials available worldwide. Our in-house designers work tirelessly to create fashion-forward designs—with durability for our homeowners. In fact, it’s not unusual for Summer Classics to make new cushions for frames that are more than 20 years old.  That's quite a testament to what's possible when you make informed decisions about furnishing all of your living spaces.  Purchase quality upfront and you will never be disappointed.

Dalton Liu