The 2019 MADE Expo architecture, design and construction trade fair will take place in Milan from 13-16 March. This year, outdoor brand Pratic made it a point to be there (Pav. 1, C23-D28): they saw it as a key spot in their yearly agenda to meet trade partners beyond retailers and embrace contemporary designers, architects, contractors and window fitters.

Founded in Fagagna, Udine in 1960, the outdoor structures and furnishings brand was one of the first Italian companies to design and manufacture awnings, pergolas and outdoor structures. Currently growing rapidly, Pratic focuses on innovation, made-to-measure quality and environmental sustainability, demonstrated, not least, by the construction in 2011 of its new headquarters, running on net-zero energy.

Frame spoke with vice president Edi Orioli about the changes in the market and why it's important to maintain a year-round open-air culture.

Outdoor solutions brand Pratic will again take part in the MADE Expo 2019 trade fair in Milan's Rho Fiera

How has the outdoor solutions market changed over the past 10 years?
EDI ORIOLI: The outdoor market has evolved a lot, but it has not yet fully entered the collective imagination. The key trends we are observing are the attention to comfort and the search for living solutions that contribute to psycho-physical well-being.

What are the most significant trends you're seeing?
Until recently, outdoor solutions had been underestimated. Architects have always understood the need to design living spaces while taking outdoor space into consideration from the start. Today, however, outdoor living is more and more desirable to consumers, both in the private and public market segments.

Until recently, outdoor solutions had been underestimated 

Have people's attitudes toward outdoor and indoor-outdoor living changed over the past 20 years?
Our company was born with the dome awning solution, which was designed to shade private or shop windows, followed by the evolution of arm awnings with better performance and the gradual entry of motorized solutions. People began to understand that PVC-covered pergolas and structures with aluminium blades meant that you could keep windows open while still being protected from the sun, rain and wind. This finally resulted in the creation of real outside living spaces. Architecture and interior design are increasingly seeing open spaces in line with modern life.

As the outdoor furnishing sector grows, MADE Expo is featuring some of the most innovative collections in the market in its Outdoor Sun-sation area.

In 2011, you designed your new headquarters to function sustainably. Why is eco-friendliness important to Pratic?
We spend from 8 to 12 hours a day at work. It is here that architecture plays its part. We wanted the project to be inspired by the quality of our work and to raise environmental awareness, so it is an insulated building that autonomously produces 500 KW of energy via photo-voltaic panels, allowing us to meet our full energy needs. It is oriented perfectly to the south with vertical full-height windows that allow our employees to see the world around them. 

We consider well-being at work very important. The new headquarters is an ideal way to represent that and our other brand values.