Interior decorator John B. Wisner designed these fabulous mid-century rattan pieces for the Ficks Reed Company. I believe they are part of the Far Horizons Collection, introduced in 1954. During this period, exotic decor from Asia intrigued the American market.
A center seat or perhaps a table existed at one time, but was long gone when David and Michael purchased the set. Today the two chairs form a love seat that is accompanied by a pair of matching end tables.
While researching, I discovered that they’re made from rattan, not bamboo. If you’re like me, you may be hazy on what separates the two. In 1954 the Schenectady Gazette clarified the difference:
A tropical vine, sometimes stretching as long as 600 feet over the jungle floor, has become one of the most desirable materials for summer furniture. Rattan, found in the Philippines and East Indies, when fashioned by a firm like Ficks Reed Co. of Cincinnati into high-styled furniture, bears little similarity to the thorny bark-covered vine gathered by natvies in the interior or the jungle.
Distinct from bamboo which is a hollow grass or tree straight and brittle — rattan, solid throughout, is extremely pliable and can be wrought with skill into innumerable articles for the home. Source
Let’s take a closer look at the construction of our pieces: The graceful, upward sweep of the arm tipped with brass caused this particular feature to be named an “elephant tusk.”
In 1885 Louis Ficks formed the National Carriage and Reed Company in NYC. Five years later, he relocated his company to Cincinnati, soon added a partner, and changed the company’s name to Ficks Reed.
The company initially produced woven reed and wicker baby carriages, but built its reputation on its luxury wicker and rattan furniture over the course of its 125-year existence. Every piece, whether residential or commercial, was hand worked to the highest quality. Today Ficks Reed means exceptional quality and increasingly rare pieces.
In additional to John B. Wisner, Ficks Reed worked with designers such as Dorothy Draper, Paul T. Frankl, and Paul László. Luxury hotels promoted their Ficks Reed decor. Here are some examples:
The Greenbrier, West Virginia – Interiors Designed by Dorothy Draper
The Colony, Delray Beach, Florida
End of an Era
By January 2011, Ficks Reed was out of business, yet its legacy lives on. SWI Vintage acquired dozens of its pieces and transformed them, through lacquer and textiles, into furniture celebrating the vibrancy of Palm Beach. They sold quickly via One Kings Lane:
Our Ficks Reed love seat and side tables are beautiful, but I suppose there’s always the possibility I could lacquer our pieces. Choices are pink, green, white, navy or natural. Any recommendations?
Ann Marie and David
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