Delivering on its long-term strategy to be a whole-home resource, Universal Furniture is launching its first outdoor collection with the Coastal Living brand. Debuting in October at High Point Furniture Market, this 90-piece collection offers eclectic looks in a variety of materials including grade A teak, cast concrete, all-weather wicker and aluminum to create modern and traditional outdoor living spaces. The expansion into outdoor comes as consumers show increased desire for outdoor eating and living spaces, according to recent research from Southern Living magazine, sister publication to Coastal Living.
“For several years outdoor spaces have been increasing in popularity, and this year that has been accelerated by the pandemic as outdoor events are cancelled and venues closed,” said Director of Marketing Neil MacKenzie. “Homeowners are creating additional living spaces that substitute for outings no longer allowed. The backyard has become the new go to spot for home entertaining.”
With the addition of the outdoor category, every room indoors, and now outdoors, can be furnished with designs from Universal Furniture. Until several years ago, it was strictly a casegoods company. It began making married-to-frame upholstery in its China factory in 2015 and motion was added in the fall of 2017. Late in 2019, the company purchased a North Carolina upholstery plant in Conover, and in the spring of 2020, Universal Furniture launched a special-order upholstery program with more than 200 frames and hundreds of fabric and leather options. Outdoor furnishings join the lineup in October.
“It’s more than a category extension,” says MacKenzie. “Our designs encompass varying subtleties within traditional, transitional and modern styles. The Universal Furniture business model has also evolved and expanded to serve more categories, styles and customers.”
The outdoor introduction is the third in a series of collaborations with the Coastal Living brand. The first Coastal Living collection of indoor furnishings named Escape debuted in the fall of 2018, and the follow up to that, the Getaway collection, launched in spring 2020.
“The partnership with the Coastal Living brand for outdoor furnishings was a natural extension of our previous collaborations,” said CEO and President Jeff Scheffer. “You would be hard pressed to find a brand that better understands consumer insights into outdoor living.”
“We knew from previous collaborations the amount of knowledge, skill and commitment Universal brings to the table,” said Kristen Payne, vice president of Meredith Corporation Licensing. “Going into our third venture together, we were confident the company could execute an outdoor line that met the high expectations of both design and quality associated with the Coastal Living brand."