In the annals of design, few materials have stood the test of time as firmly as wicker. A familiar and enduring material, it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t had a wicker chair or table in their home. This flexible and sturdy material, derived from the core of rattan canes, marries functionality and aesthetics like few others.
The use of wicker originated in the indigenous cultures of Southeast Asia, where rattan grows abundantly. It was employed in crafting a multitude of items, such as chairs and baskets, thanks to its exceptional durability and flexibility.
The boom of this material in Western interior design happened during the Victorian Era when wicker furnishings became popular in bourgeois households. The lightweight nature and rustic appearance of wicker presented a refreshing and natural alternative to the heavier and more opulent furnishings typical of the period.
The material became an object of experimentation in 20th-century design, with designers like Eero Saarinen and Arne Jacobsen at the helm. During this era, wicker furniture took on more modern and sculptural forms, moving away from traditional woven patterns and embracing a more minimalist and functional aesthetic.
Today, the use of wicker in furnishing is more relevant than ever, being a natural and renewable material with high durability, making it ideal for both indoor and outdoor settings. However, the real strength of wicker lies in its versatility.
It’s a material that can be molded into almost any shape, which is why it is beloved by designers and architects seeking innovative forms and structures.
It has also been greatly appreciated by fashion designers and artists who have been immortalized sitting on wicker chairs. Figures such as Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent were known for their love of wicker furniture, as were Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, who was photographed on a wicker chair in some famous shots from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
In summary, wicker is an iconic and sustainable material that unites the resilience of the past with the versatility of the present. In an ever-evolving world, the use of wicker reminds us of the importance of maintaining a connection with nature, not only in our professional life but also in the creation of our personal spaces.
Annamaria Di Fabio