The Elegance of Rattan

The history of an ancient craft

Growing up in Houston, I would often spend time at my grandparents’ house on the weekends, soaking up the sun while swimming in the backyard and playing pool with my cousins. During the eighties and nineties, my grandmother had a strong penchant for Chinese décor and filled her home with chinoiserie; plush jewel-toned velvets, and plenty of rattan. I was too young to appreciate it all then, but as I grew older I often thought of those days with nostalgia and appreciation for her great taste. I have always loved rattan, and most recently I found some rattan folding chairs for the backyard that are one of my favorite outdoor purchases. What I love about rattan is its ability to have a vintage look that is elegant without being too serious or fussy. The fact that it stems from the ancient craft of basket weaving is most likely why, as it is made by hand and is the example of true craftsmanship. Rattan is actually a form of wicker, made from the rattan plant and discovered in Southeast Asia by Europeans, hence its exotic association. I’ve begun to do research on rattan as I’m always looking to incorporate it into my home and studio. 1st Dibs has an incredible selection shown here, and I’ve also just ordered some vintage wicker and rattan hat forms for my antique embellished caps from India that I plan to display in my studio. One piece that I am particularly obsessed with at the moment is a Lina Zervudacki fish lounge chair from the 1930s. It is truly sublime, and slightly out of my price range. A girl can dream.