exterior by Marco Meneguzzi
Rattan itself is a type of climbing vine that grows in rain forests , and produces long, thin branches. The branches are harvested, debarked, sanded down and then woven into the product. It's entirely environmentally friendly - the Rattan plant will regrow and due to its reliance on large rainforest trees to climb up, it's meant that natural rainforest has been left intact in areas that are now suffering from large scale deforestation (such as Indonesia).
The term "wicker" is a general term, used to describe woven product made from anything natural and of plant origin - bamboo, straw, cane and rattan.
Wicker furniture has been around since the Egyptian period, but its popularity really soared during the Victorian era, when conservatories and palm houses became highly fashionable and a process of manufacturing was invented that mimicked rattan, but that made it durable and allowed for a finer weave- Lloyd Loom. Lloyd Loom furniture (this refers to a manufacturing process, rather than a specific brand name) is not made from a plant based material - it's wire with paper twisted and wrapped around it to make a durable, thin and long lasting fibre that is easily woven and shaped. While Lloyd Loom in its original format is still available today, the modern version of this is the plastic wrapped wire - UV stable, able to be left outdoors year round and therefore more suited to modern life without an army of servants to carry the pieces indoors when the weather becomes inclement.
Interior by Marco Meneguzzi
And perhaps that is why wicker furniture has such romanticism attached to it. Images of wicker conjure up languid afternoon teas in the garden. or reclining on sun lounges in palm fringed conservatories, or sitting outside a cafe in France.
Bunny Mellon's back hall via Architectural Digest
However, wicker has not just stayed stuck in the Victorian/ Edwardian era in styling, but undertook a revamp in the 1950's and 1960's when using materials in innovative ways resulted in a period of radical reinvention of furniture design. Many of these styles are still available today.
I've been particularly taken with the wicker designs of Sika furniture (a Danish company), who have produced rattan furniture since the 1940's and who had Arne Jacobsen, Nanna Ditzel and Franco Albini to design pieces for them that are still in production. These particular designs are not suited to outdoor use, but their use in interiors is what has interested me at any rate. Nanna Ditzel invented the original egg chair, which is much copied, but still manufactured by Sika
So, wicker is not all just about French bistro chairs (heavily in fashion in recent years).
But if you don't feel that the furniture has a place in your house or garden, then you can always spring for a wicker bag and carry it around instead.
via Snob Essentials
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