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A boom in bamboo

Decorators are bending toward its versatility and strength

Saturday, November 04, 2000

By Patricia Sheridan, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The beauty of bamboo is its many decorative applications. This regenerative, earth-friendly plant from the grass family is growing on decorators for the exotic touch it adds to any room.


Shutter Time and AGI's catalogs are offered on the Internet at For prices (depending on window size) call 800-823-6677.

To find out more about bamboo flooring, which can be glued, nailed or floated check www.Bamboohard
or call 1-206-264-2414.

Contact Baker Pittsburgh at 412-361-3355 or go to the McGuire Web site at www.mcguirefurniture
for prices and shipping information.

Other furniture and flooring manufacturers on the Internet:

, (its sling chair is shown on the cover) or call 800-783-0557.

or call 1 305-401-2383.


Among the home furnishings companies bending to consumer demand for bamboo and other Eastern materials are McGuire, Pottery Barn, Milling Road and many small independent companies, like Bamboo Hardwoods in Seattle.

"People like it because it's unique," said Doug Lewis, president of Bamboo Hardwoods, which manufactures and sells furniture and flooring.

"Mostly it's an aesthetic choice. If the product is made right, there is an obvious long-lasting quality," Lewis said. "Our furniture, which is made of solid bamboo from Vietnam, will be the future's antiques because it lasts indefinitely."

Milling Road is another furniture maker taking advantage of the beauty and versatility of bamboo, which is stronger than maple but flexible enough to be woven. Its Ming Dynasty-influenced stacking cocktail table has a crushed bamboo veneer on its surface and 18th-century Chinese style curved legs. (In this case, "crushed" refers to sliced and flattened bamboo.) The table, which debuted at the Fall International Furniture Market in North Carolina, won't be in showrooms until spring.

Available now is Pottery Barn's Ceylon Collection featured in the store's latest catalog "Holiday 2000." Using seasoned and split bamboo poles that are laminated onto a hardwood surface, the line includes lamps, a three-paneled screen, storage cube, trunk, wall cabinet and armoire. A walnut stain is used for the furniture and a deep espresso shade for the lamps. The rich hue helps to emphasize the tactile texture of the plant.

"One of the characteristics of bamboo is that it can take an infinite number of color finishes," said Lewis. "This is one of the qualities that make it so attractive, especially for flooring."

In business for 12 years, he has seen the bamboo flooring industry expand from a small footing in the United States and Europe. Because bamboo floors are so durable, different and ecologically sound (the plant needs to be harvested every three to five years), they are edging toward mainstream markets, especially on the West Coast.

New technology and the addition of aluminum oxide in the finish used by Lewis' company give the floors better resistance to wear and tear.

"We do prefinished floors much the same way Bruce does," he said. "They are cross-laminated with square edges."

Bamboo floors start at about $4 a square foot and are slightly more expensive than the average prefinished oak floor.

Shutter Time, for its part, is more interested in bamboo's organic allure and distinctive patterns. The company, the parent company of which is the AGI group, likes the way thin bamboo slates let in filtered light while maintaining privacy. When combined with other window treatments, this blind can be utilized in formal as well as casual settings.

McGuire's bamboo tables and veneered furnishings are happiest with other high-end furniture. For 50 years, the San Francisco-based company has built a reputation designing products using exotic materials including teak and rattan. The Faubourg Collection, including bed frame, oval commode and ottoman, is constructed using mahogany solids and crushed bamboo veneers in a dark chestnut finish. The group's profile was styled to pay tribute to Jean Michel Frank and the French Moderne period.

Saluting bamboo's tropical traits is the octagonal table designed by John McGuire. The natural brownish-black bamboo base is lashed with red rawhide and supports a 3/4-inch glass top with beveled edgework. This is one of a group of tables offered in three bamboo varieties, including yellow and mottled.

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