Rattan furniture, which always reminds me of light-filled conservatories, is currently getting attention from some very high-flying designers. Lulu Lytle, owner of Soane, the wonderfully eccentric shop in London’s Pimlico Road that has always found inspiration in British craftsmanship, now has a growing collection of contemporary rattan furniture and accessories.
They range from the Mini Vase lamp (£700, second picture) and Lacy mirror (£1,500) to the Broadway dressing table (£4,200) and Mortimer table (£10,700, first picture), most of which could happily sit in bedroom or sitting room as well as a conservatory – and even outside on sunny days. There is also the Ripple circular side table (from £3,800), which, while entirely constructed from rattan, gives the impression of a tablecloth rippling to the ground. The collection, all made to order, was rendered possible when Lytle employed craftsmen who used to work for Angraves in Leicestershire, one of the last rattan workshops, now sadly closed.
The Conran Shop, too, is having a rattan moment with its “organic and sustainable” Riva collection. There’s a chaise-longue (£450), a small bench (£450) and a dining chair with arms (£175) that is a direct copy of those used in the Grøften restaurant in Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens in the 1950s. It comes with a cushion made of cotton and filled with kapok, a lightweight, natural fibre derived from the seed pods of the kapok tree.
But perhaps most beautiful of all is the range of chairs created by Emilie Voirin in collaboration with Jérôme Nelet and Fei Liang for their Made in China collection. They have taken four iconic designs – one each by Verner Panton, Charles and Ray Eames, Frank Gehry and Michael Thonet – and reproduced them in rattan (D’après Panton, £1,400, third picture) and bamboo (D’après Gehry, £1,400, fourth picture). Their idea was that changing the material would transform the chairs into something new, so we look at them with fresh eyes. Each one comes in a limited edition of 15.