Rattan Furniture

Ficks Reed Furniture: Mid-Century’s Exotic Rattan

Ficks Reed Furniture

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.

Ficks Reed Far Horizons

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.”
Ficks Reed Chair Frame
Ficks Reed logo
Ficks Reed rattan side table

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
Ficks Reed at The Greenbrier
Ficks Reed The Greenbrier
Ficks Reed The Greenbrier

The Colony, Delray Beach, Florida

Ficks Reed The Colony Delray Beach FLFicks Reed The Colony

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:Ficks Reed Dorothy Draper Bench
Ficks Reed Green Schumacher Loungers
Ficks Reed White Schumacher Chairs
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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Designing a Mid-Century Modern Room

Another month, another booth. After just two months in our beautiful aubergine space David and I realized we desperately needed more room. Lucky for us a more spacious booth became available unexpectedly.

The additional room created all sorts of possibilities, so this month we decided to try something different. We designed a mid-century room, on display through September, at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery.

We had the furniture picked out, but we needed a little help selecting the paint. We wanted something retro yet modern, bold but without being kitschy. Thankfully Suszi Kerr, the owner of Avonlea, offered up her expertise. As you can see, Sherwin Williams’ Daredevil Orange looks terrific as an accent wall.

With the booth painted, we started filling it up. Almost all of the furniture in this room was manufactured in the 1950s by Reed Furniture Mfrs, Designers of White Craft, Miami, FL.

Let’s start with the lounge chair and foot stool. Large snaps hold the padding in place, a necessity because the padding is so heavy. Think I’m exaggerating? Do you remember when your dental hygienist placed the lead vest across your chest before X-rays? The foot stool padding is like that. The lounge chair padding is far weightier.

Reed Furniture White Craft

The matching all-in-one table lamp even offers space for magazines. A teak cabinet, made in Denmark in the 1960s, stands to the right of the chair.

We have a window in our booth and I’m scrambling for a treatment. But that’s a project for another day. Let’s just focus on to the sofas and side chair.

Reed Furniture Designers of White Craft

Check out the square pillows sewn from the same fabric as the lounge chair.

Reed Furniture Designed by White Craft

And the matching coffee table with woven strips of bamboo under glass:
Reed Furniture Designers of White Craft

Suszi helped with our wall art configurations. She’s amazing. David and Michael struggled to keep up with their hammers and nails. I’ve never seen pictures go up so quickly.

We integrated our eclectic artwork. A Thai temple rubbing rubs shoulders with panels made in Holland. African masks mingle with Asian art. We even hung reproductions of Pompeii mosaics underneath a contemporary aqua 3-D image.

Wall Gallery

Wall Gallery

Michael acquired this tension lamp with green glass pagoda globes. When they’re lit, they emit a yellow-green glow.

Wall Gallery

The bar, stools, and matching wall mirror stop people in their tracks. Even though I brought fall decorations, by the end of the day I only managed to hang one Halloween banner.

1950s Bar, Stools Wall Mirror
One month. That’s how long this design stays in this space. We’ve had two exhausting days but the customers’ comments made us laugh. There’s the common motif that the room looks so cozy . . . but what time will cocktails be served?

In October Iris Abbey hopes to move to an even larger space, where we will merge our styles of Mid-Century Modern with painted furniture and antiques. I think we’re up to the challenge.

MCM furniture

Thanks for your visit. We love your comments.

Ann Marie and David

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