When Athena Calderone designed her first ever collection for Crate and Barrel, there was one material she simply had to include: rattan.
The hearty palm wood, she thought, was the perfect complement to the sleek base of her 1950s French-inspired iron floor lamp, as well as neatly accenting her angular, Amagansett-aesthetic sea green one. “I wanted something that felt like it came from the earth,” she says. “Rattan felt like something that has the texture and warmth that was going to counterbalance those other slicker elements.” Carefully, she developed woven, knotted shades out of this natural material, their mellow imperfections a playful contrast to the dark elongated shapes below.
On September 14, she debuted her collection at a cocktail party during New York Fashion Week. Mingling among the hand-crafted rattan shades was everyone 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 tastemaking name inspired by the material. Robert Mckinley, founder of Studio Robert McKinley (the design firm behind Hotel Kinsley and Sant Ambroeus), created an elegant rattan lamp in his recent lauded furniture collection debut, 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 shaped into the elegant forms of furniture, lighting, and objects,” McKinley says. “There’s something effortless about it, something that is timeless and works in so many situations. I’m in love with the marriage of these two materials.”