Saturday, April 28, 2012

Revisiting rattan ...

I rarely think of rattan, and I really don't know why. Maybe, I might be swooning over rattan furniture if I lived in some tropical paradise with a lanai just beyond my back door - kicking back with drinks made of pineapple and rum in a glass festooned with the requisite umbrella. But, I digress.

Ooh, how I would love to own the rattan-framed bicycle shown in this image from Kravet. 

Before I go a step further, I must clarify the difference between rattan and wicker. It's a pet peeve with me when I hear anyone interchange them as if they were one and the same. They are not.

Rattan is made from the thin pliable, cane stems of a climbing palm called Calamus. It's a tropical, almost vine-like plant used as straight or bent canes to make furniture. It is a native of Africa, Asia and Australasia.

The beloved bistro chairs of France are shown here with rattan frames and man-made
wicker seating and backs. Image via Heather Bullard.

Conversely, wicker is generally the process of weaving plant fibers into finished goods, usually used for baskets or furniture. But, man-made materials are also woven and sometimes referred to as wicker. The word wicker is believed to be of Scandinavian origin, coming from the word wika, which means 'to bend' in Swedish.

Image of Sid Bergamin patio via Elle Decor.

Now that the difference between the two has been committed to memory, let's talk about how gorgeous vintage rattan pieces can be when added to exterior or interior design schemes.

Image via Anthropologie.

The casual nature of rattan makes it a complementary partner to any decor style.

Images above via The Blue House (left) and Jonathan Adler (right).

In an ode to the past, I tip my hat to the hanging rattan chair swing (above) designed in 1957 by Copenhagen born Nanna Ditzel. Ditzel's design has triumphant staying power and has been emulated by designers worldwide. Hey, when designer Jonathan Adler is a huge fan, you know this chair will always have a place in homes and gardens everywhere.

Image via Casa Cara.

I would love to get my hands on the beauty above. To think that I had an entire collection of rattan living and dining pieces in the mid-1970s. Sofa, occasional chairs, table and dining chairs all in perfect condition ... Now, I can't begin to imagine why I was so eager to get rid of them.

Image via Fanimation.

I know my daughter would love the Caribbean vibe of the bathroom above. The rattan chair is a perfect addition to the relaxed, tropical personality of the spa-like space.

Image via Stuart Membery.

Rattan can be used to dress a space, too. With a few well-chosen pieces and a crisp white palette, Sydney-based designer Stuart Membery added his 'Conservatory Dining Chairs, vintage rattan 'Mandalay Demi-Lune Console' table and vintage rattan 'Outrigger Drum Table' to create the glamorous outdoor sitting area at his Bali hideaway.

Hey, I would have saved my rattan furniture if I knew I could use them in my Bali hideaway! Wait, I don't have a Bali hideaway. Darn! Instead, I'll simply await my invitation to visit Membery's place!

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