Raising cane: The traditional wicker webbing makes a comeback (again!)

When a design trend looks as good today as it did more than three millennia ago, that’s staying power.

Cane work, or cannage, the distinctive, open-weave basketry material of thin rattan strips often used for seating on chairs and home furnishings, can be traced back to ancient Egypt.

What’s really amazing is how good it still looks today.

Caned details in home decor and design are having a moment.

Sausalito-based design and lifestyle brand Serena & Lily is using caning on everything from daybeds to light fixtures and has incorporated the graphic pattern onto wallpaper and serving trays.

Kirsty Williams, senior vice president of design for Serena & Lily, said, “One of the great things about caning is that it’s a little bit of a chameleon. It’s a lovely graphic pattern, but it’s not overly bold and it layers really nicely.”

Los Angeles-based designer Ally Marks of Ally Marks Interiors chose caned dining chairs by Rejuvenation to complement a heavy, wooden table in a showcase she designed for the Dwell on Design show last summer.

“I like it because it works with so many different styles,” Marks said of the traditional caned seating. “You could put it in a modern space, a traditional space or something with a rustic or bohemian feel.”

For many, the texture of the tactile wicker webbing is also a big part of its charm.

“I think what really makes a space is bringing in different textures,” Marks said. “For the Dwell room, I had a piece that was lacquered, and then there was leather and metal and some wood. Caning is another texture to bring in, and I think it’s a good one because it’s really light and airy. It doesn’t feel stuffy, which is especially good for Southern California.”

“I feel like we are seeing the Bauhaus movement coming back as a trend,” said Siham Mazouz, founder of the French by Design blog, referring to the German, 1920s-era philosophy that sought to recognize art in design. “I think people are looking for authenticity and the real feel of craftsmanship. And caning has this lacy, intricate pattern that looks homemade even if it was made in [mass] production.”

Mazouz said she became aware of the trend while scouting homes in Europe, Morocco and the U.S. for an upcoming book. “I noticed during photo shoots that a lot of the families had caned chairs, either the Thonet bentwood bistro chair or the Marcel Breuer Cesca chair,” Mazouz said.

“Then I was on Pinterest and noticed even Ikea is releasing [caned] items.”

“In the fashion world there’s Dior with their Lady Dior Bag,” Mazouz said of the luxury handbag with quilted cannage pattern. “Caning is happening for real.”

Mazouz said the trend also dovetails with a renewed emphasis on houseplants and organic elements. “People are looking for natural fibers to bring warmth to their interior,” said the blogger.

Williams agreed. “Caning has a lightness, an openness to it,” she said, “so it’s evocative of the garden, and it’s like a little bit of the garden coming inside.”

Bonnie McCarthy contributes to the Los Angeles Times as a home and lifestyle design writer. She enjoys scouting for directional trends and reporting on what’s new and next. Follow her on Twitter @ThsAmericanHome

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