The Photo-Worthy Rise of the Outdoor Umbrella

Hotels have always been a verdant landscape for gorgeous umbrellas, and they continue to provide inspiration today. “I wanted to build my dream motel,” says designer and hotelier Lyon Porter, who opened The Dive Motel in Nashville in August 2019. His poolside umbrellas are a hot topic.

“They look vintage but are new, and I get asked every day where we got them,” he says of the Business & Pleasure Co. shades in orange-brown-and-yellow retro florals. They complete the 1960s summer vibe of his vintage motel poolscape.

Umbrellas by Santa Barbara Designs pack a punch at this Mexican retreat by Ken Fulk and Víctor Legorreta.

Photo: Douglas Friedman

Aesthetics aside, outdoor umbrellas are undoubtedly functional. “Design is meant to have function, absolutely. But, there is this idea lately that everything with a function can still be truly beautiful,” says AD100 designer Brigette Romanek. “We are seeing refrigerators by Dolce & Gabbana and toilets in wild prints and bold colors. An outdoor umbrella plays right into that trend. For me, it’s another place to express a mood or a feeling, while complementing the rest of the interior design.”

Some companies have capitalized on more temporary activations with umbrellas, even curating daily beach experiences. Bliss Beach is co-owned by Brian Jones, a former safari guide in Kenya. At one of seven beach destinations in California, his team will come create a glamping moment in the sand for an afternoon, for a fee.

“We can set up two lounges in each location per day, and our Safari Room styling includes rugs, hardwood chairs, coolers, day beds, and floor pillows, with umbrellas sourced from Sunday Supply Co.,” he says. “We love the spotted print, but, also, they hold up over time. For us, they are going up and down every day, and we have to have that joint-and-wood quality.”

Elaborating further, Jones muses, “I think umbrellas are really like the hood ornament of a car. It’s what’s getting photographed and recognized. It drives our business, and people love the nostalgia of them.”

St. Tropez Beach Umbrella, 60″W x 78″H, Atlantic Blue

Phoebe Scallop Patio Umbrella, Air Blue/Natural

Woodard Standard Conventional Top 8′ Beach Umbrella

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