In our “global” world, a major complaint one hears everywhere is about chain shops. For example, if you are in Paris, London or New York you will see the same dominant brands: Gap, Starbucks, etc. To find one-off designs and specialty shops, you often have to go off the beaten path. This same complaint could emerge in the outdoor decor market as only a handful of brands now dominate the market, and even the niche brands are being copied. So the hunt is on for unique, exclusive designers with an art-like approach or who are craftsmen producing tiny series.

At Maison et Objet, I fell head-over-heels for a design by a young talent Stephane Ducatteau who specializes in metal treated with special acids to achieve beautiful finishes. The products were even more surprising because they are fantastically comfortable.

If you are looking for less edgy pieces then local wood craftsman is the way to go. I saw Jonathan Stockton’s work at the Chelsea Flower show. His beautiful set has three unusual assets:

  • it is festive: there is a matching champagne stand and each piece can be fitted with an internal LED to bring it to light
  • he has developed a high-back bench to match — right on trend (this shape is a new must-have)
  • it is eco-friendly: he produces them from FSC-certified oak or reclaimed teak

But above and beyond these attributes, it is a unique and special feeling you get from his work and the knowledge that it is made just for you.

For those with a large budget, art is a clear option. I love this work by uber-famous designer Ron Arad called “Water in the Southern Hemisphere.” It’s a large sculptural rocking chair with a curvy shape. The folded layers of polished stainless steel 10 millimeters in diameter is a signature technique.

As the decade licks off, let’s aim for a little more uniqueness. Happy hunting!