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An ancient houseware material stands the test of time

One of humanity’s most ancient materials—rattan, which is made from the bark of a native to Asia, Africa, and Indonesia—is enjoying yet another wave of popularity. But it’s by no means the only age-old material that’s woven into furniture, rugs and other housewares. Wicker, for example, is anything woven from willow, rattan, reed or other pliable plant material. And that’s different from bamboo, which can be both woven and made into furniture.

All of them are showing up everywhere and at every price point. At the very high end, the pairing of bamboo and raffia pieces made by Italian designer Gabriella Crespi in the 1970s inspired AERIN’s elegant collection of woven cane and brass pieces.

Ethan Allen has the handsome Kash woven pendant, made from rattan-wrapped seagrass and available in natural, whitewashed and navy finishes, and the Olina Orb chandelier, made from metal wrapped in natural abaca rope and accented with rectangular metal cuffs.

Look for these interesting textures under foot as well; Thirty Six Knots sells carpets made in India from pure Jute and a very small amount of white cotton string. Either hand-tufted or hand-knotted, they are available in several standard sizes, and custom sizes can also be made to order. 

Ikea sells one of my favourite woven pieces—Tjillevips handwoven bamboo baskets with lids can be used on dressing tables, open shelving, and in the kitchen. Larger baskets are a pretty, practical way to store items in entryways, the bath, laundry, or mud rooms.

Pic: Ikea

Casa Cubista is showing an extremely handsome trio of a basket-weave chair, table and pendant lampshade, all made in Portugal by a family with a long tradition of handweaving fishing baskets and other goods in cane and wood.

At the other end is the line Marcel Wanders collaborated on with Walter Wickers.  The Reverie collection of outdoor furniture is made from stylish, sturdy woven resin, and includes one- and two-seater chairs, chaise longue, day bed, and tables. Because pillows adhere to the open weave geometric resin shell, they add another layer of colour.

After a few millennia, it looks like handsome, practical woven textiles are here to stay.

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