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The New York Times / June 2011

Patio Umbrellas
Shopping with Christopher Myers
By Tim McKeough

nytimes

WITH increasingly intense sun beating down on patios, decks and terraces, many people will soon be scrambling for shade on blistering summer days. “Shade is an essential element of any garden,” said Christopher Myers, the founder of Just Terraces, a New York design firm specializing in urban outdoor environments.

That holds doubly true for a city rooftop or terrace, he said, where “you’re not going to get trees to do the work” and “shade has to be somehow manmade.”

Mr. Myers likes to think about shade structures in terms of baseball: a simple market umbrella, he said, is like hitting a single. A larger, more elaborate cantilevered umbrella is like getting to second base, while a stand-alone shaded daybed is a triple. And a pergola, with the serious coverage it provides, is a home run.

On an unseasonably warm spring afternoon in Manhattan, Mr. Myers went shopping for affordable and out-of-the-park options.

His first stop was Gandia Blasco in Midtown. It took only seconds to find an unconventional option he liked: the Ensombra parasol, with helicopterlike blades that stack on top of one another, ready to swing out to create a circle of shade. “I can see using a bunch by a pool,” he said. “Like a field of poppies.”

A few doors over, at Janus et Cie, he found something else to admire: the Janus aluminum umbrella, which he liked for its solid construction and the casters on its base. “The mobility is great,” he said, though he did wonder if that might make it unstable.

Across the street, in the D & D Building, Mr. Myers took the elevator up to the Walters Wicker showroom, where he found his second-base option, the Ocean Master Max Cantilever parasol by Tuuci. It was not only beautiful, he said, but also highly durable, thanks to a beefy metal frame and yachtlike mast.

Upstairs, in the Richard Schultz showroom, he found a home run, the Landscape Pavilion by Kettal, with a variety of shade options including curtains and cedar slats. “I like how custom it feels,” he said. “Doesn’t it feel like its own room?”

Online, he found more-affordable options, including a simple market-style Sunbrella umbrella from Crate & Barrel. “It’s a standard choice that’s going to do the job,” he said. “You can expect to have it as long as you don’t let the snow sit on it in the winter.”

Just don’t leave it open in high winds, he warned, especially on a rooftop: you don’t want it “to blow off and fall 40 stories,” he said. “That’s very important.”

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