Every ocean homeowner appreciates the joy of relaxing and entertaining outdoors on a warm, sunny day. But coastal connoisseurs, especially those living in the rugged reaches of New England, also understand those days can be fleeting.
Unpredictable weather patterns in spring, summer and fall, and the long, harsh months of winter, can not only reduce outdoor living opportunities with family and friends, but also the life span of your patio furnishings. Weathered Furniture, based in Rockland, Maine, understands the nature of ever-changing coastal climates and creates stylish yet durable outdoor furniture that stands up to the most challenging conditions.
“I have one particular piece that is 30 years old, that’s been outside 12 months a year for 30 years and still looks pretty darn good,” says Gil Harper, CEO and owner of Weatherend.
Weatherend has been built on tradition and quality. Started 30 years ago, the outdoor furniture company was inspired by the then 70-year-old pieces of Hans Heistad, a Norwegian-born landscape architect, who worked on the prominent Weatherend estate in Maine in the early 20th century.
Harper, a Maine native and former yacht builder,describes his home state as having “one of the toughest outdoor climates on planet Earth.” Because of the conditions, the outdoor furniture company strives to build livable pieces that will endure against ocean spray, wind and precipitation.
“We felt that with our yacht building skills and knowledge, that we could probably build hard-wearing outdoor furniture that is heirloom quality, and that would last for generations,” he says.
Before working on the outdoor furniture line, Harper had a close affinity with the sea. He spent many years building yachts – his father was his mentor – and a decade in the U.S. Merchant Marine. “We went to work 30 years ago with those yacht building skills, expertise and knowledge of yacht building materials, and designed a collection,” he says.
Three main principles guide Weatherend’s collections: Heirloom quality, yacht building integrity, and distinctive design.
“Heirloom quality is a must for us,” he says of the furniture line that is designed to be outdoors 365 days a year. “In a world where we’re all trying to be as green as possible, heirloom quality is a nice match,” he adds.
And what makes heirloom quality possible is the yacht building integrity that Weatherend is known for. “It’s not just the materials used to build the yacht, it’s the skill level of how to put those materials together.
“You can’t just use yacht building materials and not have the expertise or experience and expect that the product will last outdoors,” he adds. “That’s something we have developed and improved on over 30 years. We have a lot of trade secrets.”
Weatherend focuses not just on the durability element, but also on the collection’s unique look and feel, as evidenced by the company’s dedication to the century of Hans Heistad inspiration.
“We invest a lot in design,” Harper says. “Anything that we design, we apply for a patent. This is pretty uncommon in the furniture world, because it’s an industry where there’s a lot of knockoff activity.”
Through patenting its products, Weatherend is protecting itself, but is primarily protecting its customers, who range from commercial clients such as Rockefeller Center and Pepperdine University to residential clients who span the United States.
“Unlike interior furniture, where someone might knock someone off and it doesn’t seem like a big deal to the customer … with outdoor furniture, when you’re knocked off and it isn’t made properly to hold up outdoors, all of asudden someone might say, ‘Oh my gosh, that Weatherend furniture is falling apart and it’s five years old,’” Harper explains.
Integrity is what guides Harper and his American-made furniture line. “I’m passionate about Maine. This is where the business is, this is where the skill is, this is where the people are,” he says. “We are the exterior experts. That’s our focus.”
Image Credits: Photo by Brian Vanden Brink.