The Grand Designs show, as its title would suggest, paid host to a variety of different companies specializing in exciting structures designed to fit any catering or hospitality need, and, while perhaps not the most important elements in the environmental scheme of things, and despite the sometimes astronomical cost of these additions, they do make for worthy column space when considering the tastes of the consummate gardener. After all, if you’d spend thousands on a car or extension, then why not on your garden?
There were two major companies at Grand Designs competing for these attentions. The first was ‘Oceans Outdoor Living’, which specialized in woven outdoor furniture. However, to leave its mission statement at that, would be to do them a great disservice. Oceans were exhibiting a variety of furniture that I was lucky enough to look at and to enjoy after a hard days stomp around Custom House. Some of the pieces I saw were opulent bordering on outrageous, for example, the design team had formulated entire three piece suites suited to outdoor conditions, including sun loungers, banquet tables and day beds-complete with a fold down cover to protect prospective nappers from the elements. However, the stand-out at Oceans exhibit was the presence of a four-man Tee Pee durable enough to remain a permanent outdoor installation.
The other competitor vying for domestic supremacy was The Breeze House Group, who provided a special focus on gazebos and pavilions and offered the very top of the line in construction and maintenance. Their motifs, however, are not confined to the structure, but rather the ecology of the entire garden, tailoring your planting scheme to fit the architecture of their centrepieces which are available in Safari, Oasis and colonial themes. However, while they do make for beautiful structures and more than comfortable entertainment spaces, they are pricey decisions to be made frivolously, with costs ranging between £4,000 (for the basic models) up to £20,000 for the Empire motif.