P.S. has a whimsical, 5-foot-tall white wicker 1970s giraffe plant stand that, when found, was buried in her late grandmother’s planting shed amongst old garden tools. When she began to restore it, she found it had been painted white years ago over the natural buff rattan, white, with a black nose and button eyes. Cute?
No, it does not fit with her ultra-modern décor, although she remembers it in her grandmother’s 1970s modern house. Therefore, she questions what vintage modern really looked like. Because she has not seen such a thing in her travels through modern furniture shops, she wonders if it is a rare “one-off.” And further, is it wicker or rattan?
First, it is wicker. Rattan is a material along with other materials for weaving which include bamboo, cane, and synthetic rattan made from engineered resin. Wicker is simply a style of weaving which includes the use of the materials listed above. Wicker goes back centuries: in Egyptian tombs, some as prestigious as King Tutt’s, we find wicker seating furniture.
King Tutt’s wicker chair lasted thousands of years because he was not capable of doing the following destructive things to it: it was not left outside to be damaged by UV rays, it was not left in the rain or dew to be mildewed and rotted, and it was not power washed.
P.S., your wicker giraffe is not a “one-off.” This type of plant stand, made in the figure of a thing or animal, was popular in the 1970s, a very strange era in terms of style and taste. Your animal plant stand as tall as you are goes along with the unexplainable things we liked in the 1970s such as Tang; Jell-O; Marg and White Bread; Avocado Green vehicles, can openers, washing machines and refrigerators; Waldorf salad in Tupperware; devilled eggs in custom dishes; platform shoes; chiffon scarves over Bouffant hair and Richard Nixon.
Wicker was hot in any form in the 1970s. I find wicker plant stands in the shapes of giraffes, short owls, elephants, reindeers, cycles, turtles, ducks and rhinoceroses. Unexplainable, but one can understand that after the shock of the 1960s, where nothing was comfortable, a cute, unaggressive, reliable shape of an animal figure was comforting. And such a thing was its own statement against highbrow minimalism in the day. After the stern geometry of the highest style of modern décor in the 1960s, a nice animal was a welcome sight, a grown woman’s form of a cuddly stuffed animal. Definitely not Bauhaus and not International Style at all.
I find that today these animal wicker pieces are found under the category of Boho Chic. What does that mean? It is a look based on “bohemian” ways of life, originally based in the 1950s, that rebelled against wartime conservatism, and stood for an artistic, self-expressive individuality. The Chic part comes from the adoption of Hippie culture, and that means ethnic and multicultural. I do not need to say more about the “hippie look.” I remember the Sly and the Family Stone concert in Grant Park in 1970.
I also learned that Boho-Chic is different from Boho style. Boho is more abandoned and wilder (think of the wealthy, pretty wannabees at Coachella) and reminds us of 100 bangle bracelets, headscarves and dangle earrings. Boho Chic on the other hand is more urban with a more sophisticated color scheme, as opposed to pure Boho which reeks of crochet halter tops, fringe, lace, see through fabrics, patchwork, fur and peasant dresses about to fall off one’s shoulders. Which indicates that the interiors of people supporting Boho are equally artfully unkempt; not so with Boho Chic.
Boho Chic apparently had its peak in 2005 with interiors and clothing featuring folk pieces paired with sleek modern (think Sienna Miller in Alfie) curated pieces. P.S.’ giraffe is now termed Boho Chic because it has an ethnic-y feel, and looks modern. The Urban Dictionary, however, denigrates Boho Chic, and defines Boho Chic as a cheap fashion trend that costs rich young women a lot of money, a trend which used hot females to model crocheted doilies (which costs the seamstress originally $1 at a flea market), re-made into sexy bra-lettes selling for $500.
Thus, the same thing applies to P.S.’ giraffe, which was once a whimsical addition to her grandmother’s house, and cost extraordinarily little at the time, and was no high culture statement or high art at all, but today can be found on 1st Dibs for $800.
Dr. Elizabeth Stewart’s “Ask the Gold Digger” column appears Mondays in the News-Press.
Written after her father’s COVID-19 diagnosis, Dr. Stewart’s book “My Darlin’ Quarantine: Intimate Connections Created in Chaos” is a humorous collection of five “what-if” short stories that end in personal triumphs over present-day constrictions. It’s available at Chaucer’s in Santa Barbara.