Home Beautiful - - LAST WORD -

same time that the cane was dis­ap­pear­ing from Aus­tralian class­rooms, it was mak­ing its way into our homes. Which makes per­fect sense, as we had a state – Queens­land – that was prac­ti­cally cov­ered in the sugar ver­sion. Hav­ing looked at this swathe of ver­dancy and an­swered the vi­tal ques­tion – yes, we can eat this, but how do we drink it as a po­tent spirit? – thoughts surely turned to how else sugar cane’s com­pa­tri­ots – cane, also known as bam­boo, wicker and rat­tan – might be used in our homes. In­spi­ra­tion came, as it so of­ten does, from the lush ve­ran­dahs, in­door-out­door liv­ing ar­eas and breezy bed­rooms of Asia, where cane was as much of a sta­ple as Aus­tralian tourists ex­claim­ing rather too loudly and rhetor­i­cally, “This Bin­tang’s not bad, is it?”

A love of cane that ri­valled our coun­try’s bur­geon­ing sugar ad­dic­tion was soon flour­ish­ing. Much like those tourists liked to view them­selves, cane was both tough and flex­i­ble. It bent with weight, weath­ered well and lasted longer than Hey Hey It’s Satur­day. It was also ideal for con­struct­ing that ’70s and ’80s de­sign icon, the pea­cock chair (which has now been re­branded as ‘boho luxe’).

In its Aus­tralian in­fancy, cane fur­ni­ture was more of an out­door thing, ve­ran­dah-es­que if you will. Which made sense, as it re­buffed pretty much ev­ery­thing the cli­mate could throw at it. Given a good lac­quer at the point of ori­gin, it main­tained both its tim­ber tex­ture and its but­tered oat­meal shade. But here’s the cu­ri­ous thing – the trop­i­cal am­bi­ence it cre­ated kind of jarred with tra­di­tional Aus­tralian decor sen­si­bil­i­ties, at least in re­gard to fabrics. It grad­u­ally dawned on a mil­lion Bevs, Beryls and Bar­rys do­ing up their pa­tios that the Liberty or San­der­son prints, with their evo­ca­tions of English gar­dens, didn’t quite gel with their men­tal mood­boards. In place of pais­ley and petu­nias, we slowly warmed to bam­boo and bird of par­adise mo­tifs. Just like other Asian coun­tries.

To get a bit Fifty Shades here, the ap­peal of the cane also soon found its way into our bed­rooms and liv­ing ar­eas, with ev­ery­thing from bed­heads and din­ing chairs to so­fas get­ting the treat­ment, and where it of­ten got a makeover in terms of colour – as long as that colour was whiter than Robert Men­zies’ cabi­net. Of course,

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