The History of Vintage Bamboo Furniture and its Current Popularity

  • Post category:Furniture

Vintage bamboo furniture is one of those trends that continues to come around. Whatever your favoured time period, you will find vintage bamboo tables, footstools, chairs, mirrors and more available to buy. 

If you are looking for vintage bamboo furniture for sale, make sure you search the Discover Vintage Marketplace and browse the many beautiful pieces on offer from our specially selected traders. 

Find out more about the history of this midcentury staple, as well as one of the most famous designers to incorporate the material into his work. This is everything you need to know about bamboo. 

vintage bamboo furniture

History of Vintage Bamboo Furniture

Bamboo grows mainly in Asia, although you can also find it in Australia as well as Central and South America. No one really knows where the name comes from, but the best guess is that it is a Dutch or Portuguese version of a word used in Malaysia or India. There are records of people growing and using bamboo for tools, musical instruments and building materials in China as early as 7,000 years ago. 

European explorers brought the material, which is actually a form of grass, back home from Asia. As it was so associated with far-off and exotic climes, it instantly became a status symbol for families looking to impress their social circle. 

George IV bolstered this reputation when he incorporated a host of bamboo and faux-bamboo furnishings into his ornate and spectacular Brighton Pavillion in 1815 whilst still Prince Regent.  

During the 20th century, bamboo enjoyed a few resurgences of popularity. Its ability to be both delicate and ornate, as well as bohemian and relaxed means that it fits into a host of different types of home.  On the Discover Vintage Marketplace, you can shop for pieces from the 1930s, 1960s, 1980s and beyond. It is still hugely popular with an array of different vintage lovers thanks to its versatility and timeless quality.  

Types of Vintage Bamboo Furniture

Thanks to bamboo’s combination of strength and flexibility, it is perfect for furniture production. It can take a good deal of weight, but isn’t so rigid as to make it uncomfortable. You also have the advantage of it being lightweight and easy to move around when you want to rearrange. Here are some of the different types of vintage bamboo furniture:

  • Vintage Bamboo Tables – From side tables to coffee tables, there are all manner of vintage bamboo tables to choose from.
  • Bamboo Outdoor Furniture – As well as indoor furniture, you can find a lot of vintage bamboo patio furniture. It adds a natural look that acts like an extension of your garden.
  • Mirrors – A popular 1960s use of bamboo was to make elaborate frames for mirrors, making them stand out on the wall. 
  • Bamboo Shelves – Making shelves from this material provides a sturdy way to display your items. 
  • Vintage Bamboo Plant Stands – The ultimate boho look is to have a bamboo plant stand in the corner with a trailing plant spilling over the side.
  • Vintage Bamboo Stools – Bamboo was also a popular choice for footstools and ottomans. 

Franco Albini

Franco Albini created a host of furniture items from bamboo, wicker and rattan. Born in 1905, the Italian was a feted architect as well as a designer. He is known for his minimalist creations and one of his most famous pieces is the iconic ‘lobster pot’ ottoman

This beautiful piece of mid-century perfection is much sought after as an icon of boho cool. It comes in two sizes and you can often find examples in the marketplace from our vintage home specialist dealers. However, you need to get in quickly as they don’t hang around for long! 

How to Restore Vintage Bamboo Furniture

Given how old some pieces of vintage bamboo furniture are, you might need to restore them when you buy them. The process isn’t too difficult, you will be glad to know. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Remove dust and dirt with a cloth. You can also vacuum it if you are gentle. 
  2. Use a fine sanding paper to work down any sharp edges or rough areas. 
  3. Mix water and washing up liquid (with an optional drop of ammonia) and wipe the furniture. Make sure you squeeze out the sponge to remove excess water. 
  4. Wait until it is completely dry and then apply a coat of varnish. 
  5. Add a layer of wax to further protect. 

Now you know how to restore vintage bamboo furniture, get out there and seek out your next beautiful piece for your home.