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Outdooring: A short history of a great idea

26 February 2015 by National Bank
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Did you know that this art of living in the garden was invented here? Read our interview with the man who got the ball rolling…

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Inspired by surplus inventory

Surprisingly, the idea for outdooring can be traced to a surplus of unsold backyard gazebos. “It was in September 2010,” recalls Alain Gravel, Marketing Manager at Trévi, a pool and garden furniture retailer. “My boss, Clément Hudon, came by my office and said, ‘Have you noticed how many gazebos we have in the warehouse? Over 400… We’ll need to do something to sell them, don’t you think?’ ”

Neither of them had any idea that this need to liquidate merchandise would generate a new outdoor living trend.

Stroke of genius

Several days later, Alain Gravel received a call from Chantal Couture, a decorator known for her TV show on Canal Vie in which she transforms rooms on small budgets. She wanted to offer her services to Trévi. “We met and hit it off immediately,” said the Marketing Manager.

Knowing that Chantal Couture could work miracles on minimal budgets, Alain Gravel gave her a rather special mission. “I had some garden furniture and a gazebo delivered to my home, Mr. Hudon’s home and to the homes of five other people I know, and I asked Chantal to use them to create an original décor at each location.”

It wasn’t long before the decorator had completed her mission. In Alain Gravel’s garden she created a lounge-style outdoor living space. “In Mr. Hudon’s yard, she invented a more sports-oriented style, with a flatscreen TV for watching the game and a decor inspired by the Montreal Canadiens.” Her other concepts included a Zen pavilion, a family pavilion, a brunch pavilion, a fashion pavilion, etc.

Smitten with this reinterpretation of the back yard, Alain Gravel produced a short video of each decor. “That’s when that I realized that I had something major on my hands,” he said.

What should we call it?

All that remained was to give the concept a name. “It took me three weeks, but in the end I found the perfect name,” said Alain Gravel.

He remembered the success he had at Omer DeSerres – his prior employer –popularizing the hobby of scrapbooking in Quebec. And his decorated pavilion in the garden was completely compatible with the idea of cocooning, a term coined in the 1990s by the priestess of trends, Faith Popcorn.

Drawing on this inspiration, the marketing expert finally found a name: outdooring. “When I googled the word,” he remembers, “at the time all they had was a reference to a traditional ceremony in Ghana, in which a newborn experiences the outdoors for the first time.” Absolutely nothing to do with a pavilion and garden furniture!

Trévi registered the word “outdooring,” which became a brand name, and presented the new concept at The National Home Show in 2011.

The response from the public was immediate. The media picked up on the word, calling it “the trend of the summer.” Outdooring specialists appeared. Even the Office de la langue française (OLF) soon got involved, suggesting a French term for the summer’s hot topic. “The OLF sent me two proposals,” said Alain Gravel. “Jardinisme and extériorisme… I told them that, as far as Trévi was concerned, I would prefer keeping the term ‘outdooring.’ ”

Finally the OLF proposed “tendance jardin” (outdoor living trend) to describe this “trend marked by the need to spend time outdoors, in the garden, by designing a space that is available as an extension of indoor space, and by furnishing it with the same attention to comfort as an indoor room.” So it would appear that “outdooring” is already a common expression. On Google, “outdooring” generates 137,000 hits, whereas “tendance jardin” only 6,320 hits.

So there you have it: the brief history of a trend that, once again this summer, should attract even more converts. The idea has begun to travel even to the U.S. This is because we like spending time outdoors, but also because when it comes to a property’s resale value, potential buyers are increasingly interested in the care you take developing the outdoors as a living area.

So remember, all of this was due to the fact that in 2010, Trévi had a surplus inventory of gazebos that needed to be sold…

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