When Athena Calderone designed her very first collection for Crate and Barrel, there was one material she simply had to include: rattan.
The warm palm wood, she thought, was the perfect complement to the sleek base of her 1950s French-inspired iron floor lamp, while carefully accenting her angular sea green Amagansett aesthetic. “I wanted something that seemed to come from the earth,” she says. “The rattan looked like something that had the texture and warmth that would counteract those other smoother elements.” Carefully, she developed woven and knotted shades from this natural material, their soft imperfections contrasting playfully against the dark elongated shapes below.
On September 14, she launched her collection at a cocktail party during New York Fashion Week. Everyone mingled in the handcrafted rattan shades, from Oscar de la Renta’s Laura Kim and Jason Wu to AD100 designers Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent.
Athena Calderone isn’t the only name inspired by the material. Robert Mckinley, founder of Studio Robert McKinley (the design firm behind the Kinsley Hotel and Sant Ambroeus), created an elegant rattan lamp in its recent debut in a rented furniture collection, Monea. Like Calderone, he was drawn to the “casual elegance” of rattan, juxtaposing it with hand-blown Murano glass.
“I love the rustic quality of the material fashioned into the elegant forms of furniture, lighting and objects,” says McKinley. “There’s something easy about it, something that’s timeless and works in so many situations. I love the combination of these two materials.