Natural neutrals and nostalgia galore for on-trend living

Kya deLongchamp explores the use of natural materials in home style this season as rattan and rustic crafts, along with floral and tweed textiles, take centre stage.
Natural neutrals and nostalgia galore for on-trend living

For all our progressive ideas, every year, organic materials and natural themes arrive in new waves on the interiors market in a classy little crop.

This year we toy with the indoor/outdoor rage, soften up all that bold industrial minimalism with handmade accessorising, and measure out some good-old period pleasures.

Return to Rattan

The sculptural possibilities of rattan coaxed with steam, hand bending, and hand wrapped and worked are designer favourites this season.

Driven by a new enthusiasm for off-beat 1970s forms, energising new furnishings, their lines best shown off without too much smothering upholstery, are heading up the prime collections here and in the UK.

Rattan, bamboo, willow and seagrass gained popularity as they recalled the laid back lifestyle and local materials of exotic far eastern destinations on the newly emerging ‘hippy’ trail.

In fine and fat weaves, seating in rattan creaks, yields and warms to the body.

Habitat has grabbed attention with the surreal angles of the Avia range taken from Calatrova airport (from €190).

Round retro chairs perched on metal frames, and hanging rattan pods are interpreted by several suppliers including Amara (Bundle chair €568).

Soanes bought the last working rattan workshop in the in the UK in Leicestershire, and are creating new woven silhouettes in long ignored materials, surpassed outdoors by resin and wire.

Their Ripple console in cane frame and rattan and designed with LA-based Mark D Sikes, is like a drifted blanket of rattan in a legless drape. POA,

Floral Dance is a creative blend of leaves and wild cuttings in wallpaper and we love the use of playful red. Cushions, lamp shades and mugs to match. Gillian Arnold Design, €102 per roll.
Floral Dance is a creative blend of leaves and wild cuttings in wallpaper and we love the use of playful red. Cushions, lamp shades and mugs to match. Gillian Arnold Design, €102 per roll.

For an alternative material to ribbons of wood, the retro rattan lighting pieces all over the high-street and online designer outlets bring a golden glow to cool CFL and LED bulbs.

Choose a light-raking shade, pendant or a tightly woven, varnished support in a natural finish or high colour dip.

Iconic lighting maker Mooi of the Netherlands, offer a standard lamp with a hand-woven reflector, modelled on birdcage customised by an ancient Chinese emperor for his favourite nightingale.

The Emperor €1,562,

Argos has a really fun bottle-shaped Sirit rattan floor lamp, splendour from the grass, at just €76.99.

White woven baskets have just arrived at Tiger Stores, a classic bargain at a laughable €8 each.

IKEA’s rattan and wood Storselle armchair is nicely hip with a curvaceous lick of shapes to the back, and in black is my choice for under €100 in a classy rattan upright armchair.

Pick up a couple of their pod like Boja table lamps for €30 each — organic calm even by day.

Bridge that indoor/outdoor tension with Sofia dining chairs with faux rattan seats based on the classic Wegner Wishbone from Meadows & Byrne at just €498 for four.

Spring gorgeous, you’re ready for summer once teamed to their winning concrete weather resistant dining table also at €498 (and just reduced) and woven Orbit Swirl placemats in turquoise, €3.95 each.

Nostalgia by nature

Straightforward classical imagery of flora and fauna does not have to spell twee.

Take your lead from the realistic, hand-coloured illustrative book plates devoted to the natural world in the 18th and 19th centuries, tropical and familiar.

Fabric designers and wallpaper makers refer back to archived sources again and again as we respond to them with calm and familiarity.

Super scale designs exaggerating the real dimensions of plants, flowers and creatures, and stepped outside realistic colourways, are fresh and now.

As with all patterns and themes, less is more- so if your surroundings are determinedly modern ease back on the bowers and menagerie to accessorising, soft furnishings or a single wall.

M&S offer some beautiful nautical side-plates inspired by the deep and its creatures, on scrimshaw carvings on whale bone and water colour paintings.

Their high Victorian antique styled chintzy plates — again in melamine, are ideal for the garden. €4.75 to €12

For a whole wall in just two colours, Cole & Sons’ New Contemporary range includes a magnificent Cow Parsley silhouette taken from a vintage etching.

Its thrusting stems are available in yellow, berry pink, blue, fuchsia and black, and classic black and white.

For something more ostentatious, but again rooted in period classics, its Orchid (also in the New Contemporary range) is gorgeous in green and violet on blue, €101 per roll,

The handmade home

Whether you like the rough loom and tribal colours of the latest folk fusion, unadorned rustic or are a determined collector of Irish crafts, this spring sees the high celebration of the handmade object from naturally sourced, local materials.

Out on the commercial shop floor — faux knits, weaves, potting and wood planingsoften all those crisp midcentury surfaces and bring accent colour and texture to our enduring love of concrete greys.

The kitchen is a great place to start, introducing wood accessories and serving pieces both off the rack and off the studio bench.

Galway-based Alberto Hogan, known fondly as Tito the Spoon Maker, has wonderful artisan pieces from coffee scoops to serving spoons in walnut, cherry wood and beech from €23.

What about commissioning something special? And it doesn’t have to be large. Stick Man, James Carroll can dream up a bowl from scorched bog oak or molten old glass bottles.

Make that connection with your local design community with regular buys that will individualise your lifestyle. There is an extensive list of makers and designers countrywide in all disciplines at

In textiles, try some cushions in rough or finer weaves with trendy tweed suiting and bold geometric prints — they should look and feel like wool even if they are not.

First stop online has to be Mourne Textiles.

The highly acclaimed Shaggy Dog Tweed, designed and hand-woven for Sybil Connolly’s 1956 winter collection has been revived by makers Karen Hay-Edie and Mario Sierra – cushions from €185,

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