365 Objects Of Design

The Rattan Revival – Five Of The Best Chairs

14th June 2018

Rattan is currently undergoing something of a revival. It would be wrong to call it a trend because it’s more of a classic that fell out of favour and has now cycled its way back round again. It’s part of the current mania for all things Seventies which those of who you who remember it first time round will be fiercely resisting.

Nanna Ditzel's classic rattan chair (based on the shape of the body) was designed in 1969 and is available from Att Pynta for £895

Nanna Ditzel’s classic rattan chair (based on the shape of the body) was designed in 1969 and is available from Att Pynta for £895

Although, like all these things it’s often better second time around. And actually I don’t think it’s like fashion in that if you wore it first time you shouldn’t do it again the second time. It’s not that I disagree with that as a principle, it’s just that with clothes it seems entirely logical that something you wore in your 20s might not be working quite so well in your 50s. Hence the desire to steer clear.

Now that may not be the case for everyone, and I would strongly defend your right to wear it all again now just like you did back then, but I also understand that, for me at least, those denim hotpants which looked great (but not as great as Kylie’s) when I was 21 aren’t going to work quite so well now I’m 51 (although they do on Kylie). Mostly now I’m just breathing a sigh of relief that I can wear clothes I can breathe in.

But it’s different with furniture.

rattan armchair from la redoute £107

rattan armchair from la redoute £107

Because, as I said in the book – your house doesn’t have fat days or hungover days, or days when it just wants to lie around on the sofa wearing elasticated waists and eating all the biscuits. Your house is probably wearing its extra 30 years reasonably well (bar a little tidying up of the windows and skirting boards) and it will be quite happy to welcome a rattan chair, an orange sofa and a giant cheese plant back through the door again.

The question is are you? And this is why we talk about a revival. This time round the material is slightly different – perhaps improved –  faux rattan, which can live outside and is more hardwearing, is growing in popularity for reasons of practicality. And perhaps this time round you won’t be putting a dusty cheese plant next to it. It’s about taking an classic and styling it in a modern way.

Akaros natural rattan chair and footstool from Habitat £245

Akaros natural rattan chair and footstool from Habitat £245

So there is black rattan. Or using rattan as a dining room chair and not confining it to a conservatory (also out of fashion now that we all want frameless glass extensions). Or weaving the strands more closely together so that the chair looks more like a Victorian Lloyd Loom, or perhaps taking one of the original design classics and sitting it in a modern space so that it doesn’t look like you haven’t redecorated since 1976, but more that you hung onto a great piece of furniture and repurposed it through the decades so that it always looked modern and fresh.

So don’t dismiss something because you remember it from first time round. Instead, welcome it back and show it how to dress itself for the new century. I’m about to wallpaper my bedroom in Anaglypta and when I first raised the possibility of that coming back in 2014  there was horror – and I’m barely overstating it. But it’s going to be cool and modern and painted in a dark, very matt colour and you will see that it will look great.

blonde rattan dining chair from rockett st george £195

blonde rattan dining chair from rockett st george £195

So give rattan a break and have a look at these five chairs and see if you think any of them could work in your updated 21st century house with a bit of updated 21st century styling. Having said that I do also have a large faux cheese plant but it lives in the bathroom and my faux rattan chair lives in the kitchen. So maybe it’s also about not going to back to old partners but finding new ones and that’s probably also true of life.

faux rattan bench from cox and cox for £375

faux rattan bench from cox and cox for £375

And that’s enough philosophy for a Thursday morning. To find out details of these chairs click the links under the pictures. And if you’ve read this far and want a water cooler fact for work: Rattan is the material used – it’s a kind of vine related to the palm tree – while wicker is the method of weaving natural materials, such as bamboo, rush and willow, to create patterns and objects.

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  • Ian Catlin 16th June 2018 at 4:48 pm

    £895 for a rattan chair? Insane / Madness

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 17th June 2018 at 12:31 pm

      It’s a lot yes but that one is a design classic – you’re also buying the label – like a Prada handbag. Fortunately there are lots of others at different price points to choose from.

  • Camilla Jones 14th June 2018 at 3:22 pm

    Wow I love your wallpaper idea. That is seriously inspired – and you’re right, WILL look very cool. I really want to try this on a vintage dresser I’m refinishing!! Thanks so much for the inspo – I’ll be sure to give you credit if it turns out as well as I think it will!

  • Jane Dale 14th June 2018 at 9:56 am

    I’m a rattan fan, annnd a wicker fan, every time round ;D I loved these then, and I love them now. I’m 73. I’m also glad, finally, to have a clear view of what it is that is ‘rattan’, annnd what it is to be wicker….the weaving of natural materials, etc. Bless you for bringing these complementary treasures to life again! Having waxed lyrical, I have to say that, for me, plastic versions will continue to be a no-no :))

    • Nicola 15th June 2018 at 10:30 am

      I hear what you are saying Jane but the new designs don’t look or feel like plastic chairs. I’d say go and have a look and a feel before you say no way.

      We live in a harsh climate and the outdoor furniture is in use all year round- there is no ceremonial packing away as Autumn rolls around. I wanted something that would last years – not only because they are an investment but because I’m fed up with having to replace things every few years.

  • Nicola 14th June 2018 at 9:34 am

    We have recently brought some outdoor furniture from Australian brand Cotswold – I was concerned about how it would stand up to being outside all year but the salesperson reassured me by saying “well it is basically plastic so it will be fine”! So far i’m Really impressed with it, plastic or not!

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