Rattan furniture may have had its golden age in the 1960s and 1970s but it’s certainly made a comeback. And it’s not just the material being revived. Sika Design’s collection ‘Icons’ is revitalising classic and award-winning Danish rattan designs, which still remain some of the best.
Sika is a Danish furniture manufacturer that produces handmade wicker furniture with an emphasis on comfort, quality, design and sustainability – values that have endured for more than 70 years. Ankjær Andreasen founded Sika in Horsens, Denmark, in 1940 – a place and a time with growing unemployment and a shortage of raw materials due to the pressures of World War II. Andreasen began by producing wicker baskets using free raw materials, such as reeds gathered from the marshes and straw from the fields after harvest, and expanded into furniture in the 1950s and 1960s. Working with the best wicker makers in Denmark, Sika Designs perfected the art of rattan furniture.
In 2012, Sika launched the Icons collection of rattan chairs and tables, which revives and revitalises the experimental furniture designed by some of the biggest names in Danish design in the twentieth century: Arne Jacobsen, Viggo Boesen, Robert Wengler, and Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel.
It’s hard to believe the Wengler Dining Chair was designed in 1902, but it’s evidence of the enduring look and feel of rattan furniture. Robert Wengler was a pioneer of rattan furniture and he challenged the material in ways that laid the foundations of rattan furniture today. Indeed, his dining chair is as classic today as it was contemporary a century ago.
Wengler’s reputation and legacy continued long after his death in 1902. His workshop became royal wicker maker to King Christian X of Denmark in 1914, and over the decades to come, many great Danish architects and designers attended the R. Wengler workshop for knowledge and understanding of rattan, as well as to have their prototypes made.
One such designer was Arne Jacobsen. As a trained architect, Jacobsen’s first furniture form was the rattan Paris Chair, and in 1925 it won a silver medal at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Art Deco emerged at the world-famous exposition and Jacobsen’s Paris Chair, as well as his Charlottenberg Chair, designed in 1936, recall the forms of Art Deco furniture. The Paris Chair has round, semi-circular arms – a common geometry of the era – and the seat and back curves with the lines of the body.
The Charlottenberg Chair has a deep cushioned seat, like the plump and luxurious Art Deco chairs, and the rattan frame sweeps up and around the back of the chair, with angled arms that balance the form in front.
Furniture designer Nanna Ditzel made her mark in the male-dominated industry in the 1950s and 1960s creating a number of chairs that Sika has relaunched in its Icons collection. She worked with her husband Jørgen and in cooperation with the R. Wengler workshops to produce chairs that Ditzel herself would use in her daily life.
In 1951 Ditzel designed the Rana Chair and Madame Easy Chair, which epitomise her soft and organic style, while being practical and comfortable. They both have a fully enclosed wicker seat, and the three-legged Rana Chair expresses Ditzel’s experimental approach to materials and design, being one of the first chairs based on the idea of integrating a separate shell and frame.
Ditzel designed the Nanny Rocking Chair in 1969, and again taking an experimental approach, she considered the idea of a chair with no legs. The result is the Nanny Rocking Chair composed of curving runners with ancillary circles, and an elongated seat to support the form of the body.
Viggo Boesen designed furniture with the philosophy that it should have an organic flow, embrace the body smoothly and tenderly, and be a delight to the eye. Inspired by a design competition held by the Danish wicker-maker guild in 1936, Boesen created the Fox Lounge Chair that combines his modernist style with the strength and durability of rattan. His imaginative design won the competition.
The return of rattan has not only seen the revival of the sustainable and sculptural material, but also the comeback of some of the most curving, comfortable and casually elegant furniture of the twentieth century. Sika Design’s Icons collection is on display at DOMO’s seven showrooms across New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.