The Photo-Worthy Rise of the Outdoor Umbrella

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The outdoor umbrella is trending. “Stylish umbrellas are absolutely top-of-mind for our shoppers,” says Etsy trends expert Dayna Isom Johnson. “People want to be outside. There is a real effort to bring that sense of interior comforts to the outdoors now.” Johnson explains that Etsy saw a 324% increase in ‘outdoor umbrella’ searches on their site from July 20 to December 20, 2020.

Etsy’s numbers are telling. Yet it’s clear the fascination with artistic, photograph-worthy patio umbrellas has actually been rising for years.

From Asian pagoda–influenced designs with intense curves to candy stripes that scream vintage circus, patio umbrellas now are a far cry from the primary colors prevalent in decades past.

“There’s a big variety now in price points,” says Johnson, referring to newer companies such as Business & Pleasure Co., Basil Bangs, and Sunday Supply Co. that sprang up in competition to retailers like One Kings Lane and Perigold, and trade manufacturer Santa Barbara Designs,

Etsy has also offered makers a way to monopolize on the trend without storefronts. “You can find an umbrella on our site at $40,” says Johnson, “but also some with hand-stitched macramé for $800. A good umbrella really transports you with an instant moment of travel in your own backyard.”

A Frontgate umbrella shades a 19th-century Italian marble table at Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent’s L.A. home.

That travel could be to the south of France, or it could be farther flung. “I think umbrellas can absolutely take us to a ‘before’ time,” says architect Nicolò G. Bini of L.A.-based firm Line Architecture. “For example, being Italian, I can recall sitting under the Campari umbrellas with my grandfather at the beach. There’s that beautiful, nostalgic emotion to an umbrella.”

Bini went with a green-and-white-style stripe for the outdoor umbrella at Cara and Poppy Delevingne’s Los Angeles retreat, which gives a nod to timeless Southern California hotels.

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“You can do custom umbrellas now, where the prints can match your veranda fabrics,” Bini says. “Santa Barbara Designs has been around for 40 years, doing amazing prints.” (The brand launched its Slim Aarons American Icon Collection this spring, named for one of America’s most iconic photographers, featuring the retro silhouettes, hues, and prints captured in his legendary photo series from the ’60s to mid-’80s.) “We considered pom-poms and how feminine they can be but went simpler with One Kings Lane,” Bini says of the Delevingne pad. “The inside of that home vibes off of the Beverly Hills Hotel, and we wanted the outside to have that same vacation elegance.”

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