faux bamboo furniture in hollywood regency design

faux bamboo has been included in a lot of design styles: rococo, art deco, …and now hollywood regency.  for a touch of asian exotic, go with faux bamboo. 

Oriental Chinese style (20th Cent) faux bamboo altar console table with carved teak floral filigree apron

Oriental Chinese style (20th Cent) faux bamboo altar console table with carved teak floral filigree apron @ newel.com


faux bamboo chair

faux bamboo chair @ artcollector-usa

faux bamboo is a thought provoking combination of nature and man made materials and geometry. bamboo’s uniform growth pattern lends itself to manmade replication.  the embellishment has a pleasing aspect, but i find myself arguing with the fakeness of the result.  

faux bamboo mirror at art collector usa

faux bamboo mirror @ artcollector-usa

real bamboo tapers gently.  i miss the natural uneven dimensions.  and for me it is always a common building supply.  

i grew up in hong kong where bamboo scaffolding was a part of the always persistent culture of construction.  small chinese men fearlessly whipped that stuff together as they climbed the towering grids that wrapped the tall buildings.  sometimes it blew down a bit in typhoons, but it was cheap and easy to replace.  for me, bamboo evokes confidence and strength, but a normal everyday kind.   

bamboo scaffolding in HK

bamboo scaffolding in Hong Kong

bamboo’s fast growth is amazing.  one botanical garden near my house walks you through a great variety of species, and the winding path through the unique dense forest is quite magical.  

bamboo at kanapaha botanical gardens, gainesville, florida

bamboo at kanapaha botanical gardens, gainesville, florida



i don’t have faux bamboo at my house.  i prefer cleaner simpler lines.  however, if you like the ornamented hollywood regency style, some bamboo look alike accents fit in wonderfully, with more polished symmetry than the original, and in all types of materials.  

Faux Bamboo (Italian 1940s) style gilt metal nest of 3 coffee tables with rectangular glass tops @ newel.com

Faux Bamboo (Italian 1940s) style gilt metal nest of 3 coffee tables with rectangular glass tops @ newel.com


6 tips for practical furniture design – chairs, curves, glasses of wine

life is complicated, it has radical ups and downs.  we need more curves, they calm, they welcome us…. and a long lunch sometimes with a good friend,  good cheese and a glass or two of wine.

i noticed at this cafe (where i was appreciating the company, and the fare, this week) that the chairs were all in the style of thonet’s 14.  metal versions with vinyl seats, but here was thonet’s design, which was originally launched and sold millions in the mid to late 1800s in europe and america.

thonets innovative no. 14 chair

thonet's innovative no. 14 chair

later the same day i watched the 2005 movie “pride and prejudice” (one of my favorites).  there was nothing like this design in all the interiors. everything was elaborate, ornate, heavy- more so with the more affluent.  i wondered how thonet managed to be successful with this design in the society of those times.  and why, after 150 years, is it still popular?  these questions brought me to today’s blog, and here are my answers.

6 basics that thonet’s chairs have – great for any chair design, but especially for dining chairs.

  1. it is curved – most of nature has curved lines.  man’s inventions are most practically made with straight lines and sharp angles. maybe the curves are attractive because we need a break from the ups and downs of our man made days.  there are many angular modern furnishings available today, but i find this style unwelcoming.
  2. the design is simple – the french and american revolutions, and the industrial revolution, were pushing away the need for everyone to prove that they were rich and upwardly mobile in society.  class mattered less. increasingly, you could sit with a friend from any walk of life at a local cafe and have a meal together.
  3. it is radical – the simplicity and the new lines of the modern were, in thonet’s time, shocking.  this is a good thing.  we often need to be shaken out of our old ways, thoughts and patterns of living.  otherwise there is no change.
  4. it is strong – thonet’s chair must have held up well to use, or he would not have kept selling them.  when thonet’s bent beechwood proved to be weak in tropical climates, he worked on twisting the wood while it was being bent, and he bought the glue factory that supplied his factories so that he could improve the glue.  many chairs these days are made of cheap, weak materials, weak at the joints, or the design just does not hold up to use.  and now there is the problem of obesity.  recently i was shopping for a new lounge chair for our deck and the label said, among other things about the care of the chair, “maximum load 300 lbs.”  new challenge for chair designers!
  5. the seating can be replaced easily – the seat on thonet’s chair could be replaced and cleaned easily.  the seats were solid wood or a woven grass. when similar chairs are covered with fabric, which will inevitably get dirty or torn in a dining setting, a new covering can simply be stapled on and seat reattached the chair.  sounds like an unimpressive feature, but i have worked on many chairs that were a nightmare to repair or re-upholster.
  6. it is light – heavy furniture is made by people who never do any cleaning.
another thonet design for an after dinner rest with curves