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Replacing cane with ?

- 09 Jul 2008 -
25 posts / 0 new

I'm going to be getting a set of chairs that have a very nice style, but the only problem is that they have a caned back, and I really don't like cane. How horrible would it be to replace the cane with something else? I was thinking some sort of fabric that would match the seat (which also needs to be redone).

These are mid-century chairs, although I don't know who made or designed them. Would I be ruining them by doing this?


- 09 Jul 2008

More information
It's difficult to offer an opinion without seeing the chair-- is it the tubular steel Cesca chair, or one of the countless knock offs?

- 09 Jul 2008

I'll try to find a photo of something similar enough to give an idea
It's wood, very beautiful design, otherwise I wouldn't even consider it - I just really don't like the weaved caning on the back, it makes it look cheap.

The back legs have a little swag at the bottom that almost makes it look like a Nelson design.

And the cane is not on the whole back of the chair, just one panel, maybe 3-4 inches across.

I'll post a photo as soon as I can.

Oh, and it's not metal at all, it's wood with an upholstered seat (maybe vinyl or leather)

- 09 Jul 2008

Here's one, but you can't really see the back
But you can see the design of the chair.

The woven cane back is only a strip down the back, maybe 5" across. Otherwise the rest of the back is open space.

I was thinking of matchng the back to the seat, which will also be replaced.

I think it will make it fantastic, if I can get it done properly.

- 09 Jul 2008

Were they mine
I'd leave the caning, because:

1) Cane doesn't read as "cheap", to me.

2) Upholstering the back panel seems a tricky proposition-- you'd have to insert a (flat) wood piece with cushioning and upholstery-- I can't help but think it'd wreck havoc with backrest profile.

3) Caning is sheer and visually light, upholstering the panel would make the chairs look heavier.

But, since they're NOT mine-- good luck with your project!

- 09 Jul 2008

Well I hear you. I'm ambivalent about changing the chair
but I do have a personal thing about the woven cane. I don't know why, but I don't like it and I try to avoid it at all costs -- but this chair has such a nice design otherwise, that I'm making an exception, at least for the time being. I appreciate your opinion, thanks.

- 09 Jul 2008

I think
I could see this chair looking good, and being comfortable, with the fabric panel that you indicate. While quite handsome, the chairs are not likely of great historic value, so there would be no "loss to society" by altering the original design !

Best wishes with your project.

- 09 Jul 2008

weave pattern
Would it help to put a different type of cane pattern in there? I am not fond of the traditional hexagonal weave. There are some other weaves with all perpendicular strands (no diagonals) that look better, in my opinion, for modern furniture.

Replacing sheet caning is pretty easy to do if you have the tool that is made for removing the spline from the groove. You should also get a set of wedges for holding the new sheet in the groove.

Below is a link to Frank's Supply, a place that sells modern style woven cane. I've ordered from them many times and have been very pleased with the goods & service.

- 09 Jul 2008

Thank you, that's a great resource link
I have a couple of Thonetesque bentwood chairs with busted seats, so will probably have to eventually figure out how to replace the caning.

My personal taste is that I don't like anything with rattan, cane, bamboo - I think because it makes things seem too "busy" to me. It adds complexity to something that I think should be very clean and simple - that's why I never could understand it's pervasive use in modern design.

But that's just me, and the fact that it is so pervasive says that my opinion is the minority.

And aside from the design factor, it's also so easily subject to damage, that also bothers me.

- 09 Jul 2008

I think
those are reasonable and understandable objections. I'm not much for rattan and wicker, either, partly because they seem fussy and also impermanent and vulnerable to wear and damage, and partly because so much of the work is in non-modern style. Peacock chair, anyone ?

On the other hand, the charm of some modern work (if the early Thonet chair that Le Corbusier favored can be called modern ?) -- the Breuer chairs certainly qualify, as does a Wegner icon -- is that the caned or woven panels read as "transparent," a cardinal modern trope. In these cases, the caning stands as a pleasant textural contrast to the smooth, linear wood and metal components. But it's the translucency that stands out, for me.

- 09 Jul 2008

How wide is the opening...
How wide is the opening where the caning is? Would it be possible to leave material out all together? Could you clean up the area and make it like there was never anything there at all? If it is a substantial width, I would not do this for functional reasons.

- 10 Jul 2008

Is it maybe because there...
Is it maybe because there are too many low-rent Wicker Outlet type furniture pieces out there lending even the nicest caned pieces a similar tinge of banality? If so, I actually share how you feel.

However, caning on certain pieces just really looks right, and you almost have to think around your association. The thing is, you'll swap it out for something else, and then see a film someday down the line with Clark Gable or Cary Grant sitting in one with the original caning, and wish you'd held off, thinking -- if it was good enough for those guys...

Happens to me sometimes.

- 10 Jul 2008

Let me just ask, since we're ...
Let me just ask, since we're talking about cane/wicker...what do folks do who have cats and wicker? Are cats helplessly drawn to destroying stuff like the PK22?

- 10 Jul 2008

The width of the back strip
is similar to that in these chairs. And I like the solid wood strip so much more than the caning!

- 10 Jul 2008

Now these just freak me out

- 10 Jul 2008

OK, don't laugh too hard, but
I'm seriously wondering if these might be Ruhlmann chairs.

I mean, aside from the fact that he didn't seem to use cane (smart guy). But his chairs consistently had that little swag thing going on.

OK, maybe not Ruhlmann, but whoever made this chair was certainly inspired by him.

- 10 Jul 2008

Wow. I'm startled by the cane-wicker-rattan prejudice!
Granted, hexagon-patterned caning is somewhat redolent of fussy Victorian parlors, and 1970's fern bars... guilt by association.

I offer these examples in defense of this holey trinity:




- 10 Jul 2008

Well those are a few notches above the holey stuff
but it's not just the holes that bother me, it's the tendency of the material to split and produce annoying wayward pieces that poke or snag clothing.

And it's too busy, I just don't like the woven look, no matter the pattern.

But that's just my personal taste, I have no problem with the fact that other people seem to love it.

- 10 Jul 2008

Hollywood glam
Dashes, I think your chair resembles the spirit of the Dorothy Draper look of the 30's and I don't think you should radically change it's original finish. Here's an example of her look. I'd keep the cane if it's in good shape unless you can see a way to replace it with wood that doesn't look cheesy.

- 10 Jul 2008

Hmmm, I'm not seeing it
It looks more to me like what would happen if Wormsley were doing homage to Ruhlmann. But until I have them in my hands, it's hard to say for sure (hopefully tomorrow).

- 10 Jul 2008

It seems strange that one...
It seems strange that one should hate cane on furniture and then go and buy furniture with cane on it! In defence of cane I'd say its light, cheap, strong, ventilated, and easily replaced if it should fail - usually only after years of use. Would Dots still replace the cane if it were by an 'important' maker?

- 10 Jul 2008

I actually don't love it --...
I actually don't love it -- used to adamantly avoid it and associate it with all things banal and MOR -- and you're right, it tatters up and looks shabby. However, I think the PK22, for example, looks much more interesting and even more masculine in wicker than the leather. Seeing progressive designs done with an earthy, old world textile like wicker or cane is what made me come around to it and start to see its beauty. Particularly some of the Kjaerholm stuff, and also contemporary pieces, like some of the ones in the website below. I used to think that wicker had had it's day.

Join us, Dashes...the likers-of-wicker.

- 10 Jul 2008

I don't think it's strange at all, considering how much I do like the rest of the design of the chair, a design which I have not yet seen anywhere else - which almost surely means that it's not done by an "important" designer, but yet is clearly influenced by those designers.

And, the cane is a relatively minor contribution to the overall design, both in size and influence, in my opinion, so replacing it could only enhance the aesthetic appeal to me.

Now, if this were by an important designer, then I might have an issue with replacing it, but only because I respect the preservation of objects with historical significance. But then I also would not want to keep them for use if that were the case.

- 21 Jul 2008

Marcel Breuer
I have a question that seems to be part of this topic.

I picked up a Marcel Breuer B64 chair off the sidewalk. The caning on the seat is destroyed and the back rest has paint on it. I like caning but I also wanted to try something new. If I did wish to replace the caning is there a way to fasten the new material to the routered groove where the caning was adhered and also cover it with the reed?

Thank you!

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