After visiting the 2011 Outdoor Furniture Market in Chicago, we asked Chad Scheinerman, lead buyer for Today’s Patio, what he saw as some of the new items and hot trends in the outdoor furniture industry for the 2012 season. One of the biggest trends he saw was the use of “chunky weave” wicker furniture across all major brands. Manufacturers have begun to transition from wicker furniture styles that feature narrow weaves and instead, they’re opting for weaves made with thicker strands. When asked about this trend, he added “Customers are finding that the larger weave designs offer a more inviting look with a unique style that really stands out from the crowd.” Add to that the popularity of larger patio areas that can accomodate large scale furniture, and it’s easy to understand why manufacturers are moving in this direction. Also at this year’s Outdoor Furniture Market, Tropitone unvieled their new URComfort (pronounced “Your Comfort”) line of patio furniture. Drawing inspiration from advancements in first class aviation seating, the URComfort system utilizes multiple pivot points to allow articulated movement of both back and seat. “URComfort cushion seating harmonizes with the movement of your body to find the most comfortable position,” commented Mark Gorr, Troptione Vice President Product Management and Consumer Sales. “Wether you are sitting at a table…or relaxing in a swivel action lounger…URComfort finds the most comfortable position for you. And it stays in that position unless you want to move. Then it moves with you.” Both Montreux and Lakeside collection will feature URComfort on several items, including dining chairs, swivel rockers, club chairs, love seats and sofas for the 2012 season. In the category of outdoor patio tables, the industry was all a buzz about a new line of alternative table tops offered by Ancient Mosaics. The new line of stone table tops are actually made of a durable resin, faux composite with a high resolution image of natural stone burned into the top. “The images are so good, I couldn’t tell the differnce between the faux stone top and the real thing” says Scheinerman. “You’ll basically be able to get a real stone look at half the price and up keep. They look very realistic.” Last, but not least, manufacturers at this year’s conference were embracing the “going green” theme. Several companies will now offer outdoor furniture with frames made of 100% recycled materials. Most popular among these frame materials was resin. Traditionally, resin furniture isn’t know for style and design, but with more companies seeking to take advantage of the ecological benefits, resin styles are now beginning to see a resurgence with more focus on the design of the furniture.Loaded with important information about the different types of patio furniture materials and styles as well as great style tips from our team of designers, you’ll find everything you’ll need to help you create your own backyard escape. As an added bonus, we’ve also included a useful checklist that you can complete and take with you when you go shopping for patio furniture.