When Athena Calderone designed her very first collection for Crate and Barrel, there was one material she simply had to include: rattan.
The hearty palm wood, she found, was the perfect complement to the elegant base of her 1950s French-inspired iron floor lamp, accentuating her edgy, Amagansett-aesthetic sea green. “I wanted something that felt like it was coming out of the earth,” she says. “Rattan felt like something that had the texture and warmth that would balance those other smooth elements.” Carefully woven from this natural material, she developed knotted shades, whose soft imperfections create a playful contrast to the dark, elongated shapes beneath .
On September 14th, she presented her collection at a cocktail party during New York Fashion Week. Everyone mingled under the handcrafted rattan umbrellas, from Oscar de la Renta’s Laura Kim to Jason Wu to AD100 designers Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent.
Athena Calderone isn’t the only tasteful name inspired by this material. Robert Mckinley, founder of Studio Robert McKinley (the design firm behind Hotel Kinsley and Sant Ambroeus), designed an elegant rattan lamp in his recent debut of the Monea furniture collection. Like Calderone, he was drawn to the “casual elegance” of rattan and contrasted it with hand-blown Murano glass.
“I love the rustic quality of the material molded into the elegant shapes of the furniture, lighting and objects,” says McKinley. “There’s something effortless, something timeless about it that works in so many situations. I’m in love with the combination of these two materials.”