In an Environmentally Conscious Society, Wicker Furniture is Catching On

In an Environmentally Conscious Society, Wicker Furniture is Catching On

Friday, September 21st, 2012 at 8:06 am



Wicker furniture is just so summer. But don’t for a minute think this old-time favourite is limited to the front porch, or to only one season.

Whitewashed, summery wicker has matured and, if you haven’t shopped for furniture recently, you’ll be surprised to see some very sophisticated designs and elegant new colours that make it perfect for use throughout the home.

“The look is changing. It’s becoming very contemporary,” says Glynis Miskin, a design consultant for Ginger Jar Interiors in North Vancouver where the sculptural Sumatra armchair, made from woven rattan, sells for a sizzling $899.

“It’s as strong, if not stronger, than wood,” Miskin says. “This is classic furniture that will look good for years.”

These days, what we broadly refer to as wicker might well be one of several exotic new natural fibres, including sea grass and water hyacinth. It’s even possible to buy wicker-look furniture made from strips of leather.

At Mihrab, a store on Granville that specializes in Indian furnishings, customers who buy the store’s water hyacinth furniture get the added bonus of knowing they are doing something to help save the environment.

The water hyacinth plant grows in canals and ponds in Thailand where it clogs waterways and pollutes the water. Harvesting the stems and drying them provides a fibrous material that can be twisted into braids and then woven into furniture.

The fact that water hyacinth furniture is eco-friendly is important to a majority of the store’s customers, says manager Ruth Jonson. “We’re in an age when people are concerned about our world.”

There is also a big appeal to buying furniture that looks distinctive, she says.

“People like the weave. And they like the fact that the frames are teak. Most people have never seen anything that’s so well constructed. A lot of rattan and wicker furniture isn’t so sturdy.”

At Laneventure, a U.S. manufacturer of high-end rattan and wicker furniture, a new line of indoor furniture called Excursions has become a top seller, following a decade in which the company was best known for its synthetic wicker made for the outdoors.

“It’s a more formal, elegant type wicker furniture,” says Gary McCray, the company’s vice president of marketing. “The designs are heavier. The finishes are darker. And there are more combinations, with wood- turned legs and stone accents mixed in with the wicker and rattan.”

Ten years ago, McCray says, manufacturers were talking about bringing the outdoors into the home. Today, that’s reversed. The trend is to take the indoors out, using substantial pieces such as loveseats and coffee tables to create outdoor “rooms”.

The new furniture lines have taken wicker to a whole new level of sophistication, says McCray.

“People were looking for something different and I can only see the trend continuing to grow. Decorating is so eclectic. Wicker furniture lends itself to making some very dramatic statements.”

 
 
 
 
 
 

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