Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn weaves a tale of furniture from yesteryear...
Does anything say summer furniture better than Lloyd Loom? Before the scorching summer memories fade completely, it’s a good time to feature this furniture, which holds a dear place in my heart.
Before deciding that my future was in antiques, I worked at Somic Plc in Preston, which my grandfather started in 1923. It was our family business for three generations, and one of the products we produced was Lloyd Loom fabric. Even if the name’s unfamiliar, you will recognise Lloyd Loom’s beautiful woven style, initially similar to wicker or rattan furniture, with a unique secret core.
American Marshall B. Lloyd invented a new loom in 1917 which wove twisted kraft paper internally reinforced with steel wire. Easily moulded into shape for furniture, the finish was left natural brown, painted gold, or pastel shades.
A Lloyd Loom chair, ottoman, cabinet or linen basket could be produced in a quarter of the time of the cane version, making the end product cheaper yet more durable – excellent news for today’s devotees of vintage furniture.
The British rights to Lloyd Loom furniture were obtained by woodworking entrepreneur William Lusty in 1921, using Somic textiles for the materials.
Patronised by many famous customers, including Marilyn Monroe, Lusty Lloyd Loom became a style icon, found in high-end hotels, restaurants and even ocean-
Vintage Lloyd Loom is very desirable and pieces can be discovered in fantastic condition. For provenance, Lloyd Loom is nailed to the frame in smooth sheets of 2mm twisted paper, compared to thicker interwoven cane and rattan. As the vertical strands contain a wire core, one simple test is to check that a magnet sticks to it! Pre-1940 pieces were made around solid beech bentwood frames. Avoid models where the legs are wrapped in weave; this denotes later, overseas models hiding a cane frame.
Even a faded or chipped finish can be the perfect opportunity to try a bit of restoration, making Lloyd Loom a popular item for the growing hobby of “shabby chic
Far from being conservatory furniture, today Lusty’s pieces have become design classics, at home anywhere in the house.