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Karim Rashid's Surf sun lounger for Vondom

It is fascinating to consider the climatic similarities Australian cities and towns have with those in the northern hemisphere and how that inspires outdoor living. A drive from San Diego to San Francisco makes you feel right at home with the abundance of coastal eucalypts, and zoos housing koalas and kangaroos in a habitat that is near native.


Oddly, Adelaide actually shares the same climate as San Jose in California and Ajaccio, the capital of the French island state of Corsica, while the Spanish city of Valencia sits equidistant from the Equator to Wilsons Promontory in Victoria. Adding to the weirdness, the climate of this Mediterranean hot-bed is more akin to blissful Byron than it is blustery Bass Strait, but we can learn a lot from their love of the outdoor lifestyle.

The Frames dining chair by Valencia-based Jaime Hayon for Expormim. Photograph by KlunderBie.

Home to the prolific designer Jaime Hayon, and also the birthplace of architect Santiago Calatrava, who was the maestro behind the city's 35-hectare cultural precinct – featuring a waterside opera house, museum and IMAX theatre. Yes, that sounds and looks more like Sydney, so if Calatrava is our Utzon what does Valencia have to offer when it comes to outdoor furniture?


As it turns out, quite a bit, and we can begin with the local lad Hayon and his Frames collection for Expormim, who are also based in Valencia. Using rattan, a material familiar to the manufacturer since the 1960s, Hayon has created a series of frames to hold the woven timber fabric upright and us well-seated.

Nieves Contreras' Out_line outdoor chair for Expormim features a double layer of zinc paint to resist the elements.

It is an approach equalled by fellow Valencian Nieves Contreras in her appropriately named Out_line collection. Featuring a metal ‘outline’ finished in a double layer of zinc paint and polyester powder with metal, polyester or rope supports, the chairs and ottomans are water resistant and weather repellent – as you would expect from any piece of furniture looking over the Med.


Aside from one incredible indoor marketplace, oranges that bear the city's name, and some incredible multi-cultural history – Valencia is also home to Fiera Habitat, an annual furniture and lighting fair where local manufacturer Enea launched the Street Chair by Estudi Manel Molina.

The Street chair by Estudi Manel Molina for Enea.

Made from cold laminated steel tube, the crucial element in this chair is its Cataphoresis treatment. A little like anodising, this treatment involves immersing a metal into a liquid charged with electricity. The benefits of this process are superior resistance to environmental and atmospheric conditions. In short, it protects metal from rusting in the same way anodising does but without shifting the colour.


Perfect for protecting bent and painted metals, the process is commonly used in the automotive, agricultural and air-conditioning industries where things like tractors need to withstand the elements. So, yes, a process ideal for a pool-side setting in Valencia or indeed Sydney.


The big difference between Valencia and Sydney is the waves, though the Spaniards have it covered with Vondom’s Surf Sun Lounger by Canadian designer Karim Rashid. Flamboyant to say the least, and formally a DJ, Rashid has been described as the “most famous industrial designer in all the Americas…” and like Hayon, puts a master-stroke to most things he touches, inside or out.


Enea, Expormim & Vondom are exclusive in Australia to Ke-Zu