Puttin’ on the Ritts: Courtney’s Asian-inspired furniture and some background on this midcentury phenom

Welcome to Courtney – a longtime reader but new commenter. She has some insight on Stef’s Asian inspired tables, along with some great photos of her own Ritts set – a classic, dusty-basement foraging find:

Hi Pam,

Thought I would comment on the reader question regarding her Asian inspired mid-century furniture pieces…

A few years ago I was rummaging around with a collector in his basement storage facility at a relatively iconic apartment complex in the Hollywood area. He was trying to thin out his collection of amazing mid-century stuff, and I was happy to help. The brass detail of a buried table caught my eye, and a half hour later, covered in grime, and for under a hundred bucks, I was the owner of a five piece Ritts Company black lacquer rattan and bamboo table and chair set. Similar to your other reader, I didn’t know a lot about the pieces or even if they were so much my style (or how I would mitigate five new pieces in my tiny Los Angeles apartment), but they were so unique (the chair- a ring of black rattan with a stark red floating vinyl cushion, and each table, in a variety of sizes, with etched brass corner details and faux-marble Formica table tops). Not quite as literal as the Chinese characters on your reader’s bamboo table, but definitely Asian inspired. I’m attaching a few photos of these just for fun (I actively use 3 of the 5 tables. The one I photographed is probably in the roughest shape, but I like to think the rustic look softens the edge. Unfortunately, my Danish chairs have relegated the black lacquer chair to the walk in closet).

I did do a little bit of research at the time, so I might offer what I learned. I think the short story is that the tiki-inspired bamboo and rattan furniture trend took off like crazy mid-century, and with bamboo pieces, the leap to Asian is not a far one. The tropical aesthetic is closely related to Asian. To keep up with demand, designers and manufacturers churned out a lot of these sets and experimented with variations. The long answer is in this article I found in the LA Times– a great piece about the evolution of tropical décor, complete with a timeline of the entire last century, from 1904 to 2004, and the relative influence of popular culture on woven furniture (think “Blue Hawaii” to “Golden Girls”, etc). I think you’ll enjoy it!

By the way, LOVE the site. Retro Renovation and Apartment Therapy are my top go-to’s for my daily design fix.

Thanks! Courtney, Los Angeles

THANK YOU, Courtney!

Here’s another good post — about Chinese influences — that we ran a couple of months ago, courtesy insight from Palm Springs Stephan.

Be-Safe-graphic2.3

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Comments

  1. Stef says

    Thank you indeed, Courtney! You’ve at least got a company name to go on with your items, and i so wish I had something similar. It’s funny how I didn’t really care about where my table came from until I got the other one. Now I’m obsessed! The only clue I have is that the thing is glued together with weldwood (the other table has no such stamp). Ah well, the quest goes on!

  2. Little Ribbons says

    Yep, knowing the manufacturer is fun- it’s a little like having a personal genealogy for your furniture, but not always so easy to track down. Of all five of my pieces, the manufacturer’s stamp is on only one piece in the set. Your single pieces are most likely also strays from a set. If you’re really diligent and moderately ocd, you could experiment with google to find its lost siblings or any trace of its origin. You know, try variations on ‘bamboo tiled table’, ‘rattan table with asian fan tiles’, etc etc to infinity, checking both web and image results. Of course, you could also go analog and make some old fashioned phone calls to other area antique dealers. It all depends on how many weeks of vacation time you have.
    Finding both pieces in the same geographic area is either indicative of local manufacturing or mass production. My guess is mass production. Given the popularity of the design, these are like the costume jewelry of mid-century furniture. Not terribly valuable, but so fun to have!
    – Courtney

  3. Stef says

    I did do some variations of the google searches you listed with no luck. I will try some more! Sadly I did not think of calling around, but now that my interest is up, I am definitely going to pursue it. If I find out more I will definitely report back. Thanks again for everyone’s help.

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