Reclaimed pieces are modernized by graphic fabrics.
The thrifting and salvaging movement of the last few years is geared to reclaiming your grandma’s and Aunt Tilly’s out-of-date furniture and transforming it into modern, usable and great-looking pieces. Nowhere has this been more successful than with frame chairs. Even the dowdiest old chair can be refinished or painted and reupholstered contemporary fabrics to great effect. And while the frame treatment is important, the fabric choice is what can really take an old piece from drab to fab. I instantly fell in love with the patchwork color on a slightly squatty settee with natural wood frame [top]. It got better when I realized the covering was a type of Bengali double-sided pieced quilt or kantha. These textiles are created together from old saris or even rags and then embroidered. This is women’s work and more about the making of a kantha is detailed on the website of a New Delhi shop. With such bright colors, a chair like this automatically becomes an accent piece.
A bold cobalt and white geometric print looks very mainstream yet modern on this chair by Andrea Mihalik whose bespoke business, Wild Chairy, offers a unique approach to chair upholstery. Like Britain’s Aiveen Daly, whose Spank chair I showed in my Women’s Wear Chairs post in February, Mihalik’s pieces are as pieces of their art in their own right. Seating is strictly secondary.
Blogger and California designer, Serena Armstrong, opened a pop up store where she offered a pair of eccentric vintage chairs recovered with two-tone linen fabric, with a peek at the stripped down frames in the “before” state. Yet it’s the way the big dark stripe is perfectly placed on the rather slight chair that make it look important and contemporary despite the relatively small scale and its age. Stunning.
In the African country of Mali, the craft of making mud cloth fabric originated with the women of the Bamana culture. I adore the graphic, almost hand-written quality of print on the fabric which obtains its dark background color from fermented mud. Even though the arms are well worn on this chair, the fabric has a lively freshness.
Using mud cloth on a chair with a gilded frame is symbolic of the way we approach updating many things in our homes today simply because we have all the arts and crafts of the world to inspire us.