Lloyd Flanders: Over 100 Years of Premium Wicker Furniture

Lloyd Flanders Grand Traverse wicker furniture collectionA true pioneer in the wicker furniture industry, Lloyd Flanders has an interesting and varied history spanning over 100 years, during which time it transformed from a sole proprietorship to an industry giant whose products are recognized around the globe.

Humble Beginnings

The company got its start producing simple wicker furniture in 1906, operating out of a Northern Michigan factory which continues productivity to this day. Though there was little competition at the time, neither was wicker in particularly great demand.

Marshall Lloyd’s invention of the Lloyd Loom in 1917, widely considered the most significant advancement in modern wicker furniture, changed everything. With improved durability resulting from the loom process, the popularity of wicker patio pieces exploded across the nation and soon spread to Europe.

By the mid-30s Lloyd Loom was synonymous with premium wicker furniture, utilized in high-class settings from resorts to ocean liners — even onboard the British Zeppelin HM Airship R100. In fact, many of the company’s collections are named after the aristocratic backdrops in which they were found.

European production came to an extended halt after the England plant was bombed during World War II. US production was stepped up as demands for exportation to European clients increased.

The company in its present form came about when Don Flanders formed Lloyd/Flanders in 1983, with the intention of continuing emphasis on the classic Lloyd Loom technique which had proven so successful.

Lloyd Flanders today continues to produce heirloom quality wicker furniture which brings comfort and style to establishments and homes across the nation in which, through hard work and creativity, an unassuming little company grew to be an industry standard.

The Lloyd Flanders Techniques

Modern Lloyd Flanders pieces can be broken into two general categories: those crafted with original Lloyd Loom materials and techniques, and those made of woven vinyl with the exclusive SunLoom technique. Though both methods produce outstanding, natural looking products, they do have some differences:

  • Lloyd Loom wicker is created by twisting cellulose fibers into strands, sometimes wound around a strand of wire if additional strength is desired. Strands are then immersed in a glue to prevent unraveling. The material is then coated in resin and baked to provide protection from the elements. Completed strands are then woven onto the frame, and the final product coated in a heavy-duty finish for added protection against damage and elements.
  • SunLoom vinyl wicker involves a unique extrusion process which gives the material a natural looking and feeling texture. Instead of wire, SunLoom strands are reinforced with nylon cording, which prevent the strands from losing integrity under duress from use or temperature. Strands are also embedded with UV inhibitors. The resulting synthetic wicker is able to withstand heavy use and exposure to elements without significant wear.

Synthetic materials have an unfortunate — and often undeserved — reputation for looking unnatural; SunLoom wicker in particular is astonishingly “real” looking, as can be seen on Lloyd Flander’s vinyl finishes page.

Finding the Perfect Lloyd Flanders

Lloyd Flanders Hampton wicker furnitureLloyd Flanders has a staggering array of pieces, each with its own charm. Take a few moments to browse the official website; where many manufacturer’s collections are only slight variations on one another, Lloyd Flanders’ collections really stand apart– compare, for example, the formal Hamptons Collection to the relaxed Tobago Collection.

If you don’t see the perfect piece, customization is easy. Both vinyl and frame finishes come in a range of colors, and the extremely weather resistant Resysta finishes are an option on some pieces, too.

In addition to the usual range of fabric options, Lloyd Flanders offers heavy-duty Fusion Fabrics, which incorporate the weather-resistant properties of Sunbrella materials with the rich colors and patterns normally found on less durable fabrics.

Why Is Wicker Outdoor Furniture More Popular Than Ever?

south shore wicker outdoor furnitureWith a history spanning at least 5,000 years, you might expect the novelty of wicker furniture to have worn off by now. But to the contrary, modern wicker outdoor furniture is more stylish, comfortable and durable than at any point in its considerable past.

How is that wicker furniture has been so spectacularly successful — by any measure — for so long, and still continues to grow in desirability?

The Miracle of Modern Wicker

In the not-too-distant past, wicker outdoor furniture was at a crossroads. Though aesthetically appealing, wicker furniture wasn’t exactly durable, quickly becoming sun-faded or cold-brittle, and subject to attack by all sorts of molds, mildews and creepy-crawlies. Though the advent of plastics solved many of these problems, early plastics weren’t particularly attractive; nor were they renowned for producing comfortable seating surfaces. Wicker outdoor furniture could be comfy and elegant, or it could be hardy, but it was seldom both.

But times change. Where once wicker outdoor furniture could only be expected to last a few years at best without rigorous care, today’s all-weather wicker patio furniture will last decades in any climate — with all the rustic charm and cozy comfort of its predecessors.

All Natural — Or Not?

Though largely responsible for making wicker a truly “all weather” option, many consumers remain concerned about the appearance of synthetic fibers. The truth is modern synthetic materials can be made to look and feel so natural that most people wicker furniture close upnever notice the difference, even if looking close, as is demonstrated nicely in the Saddleback Collection or the Cabo Wicker Collection (click on an individual piece for close-ups of the weave). Of course, synthetic fibers can be made to look decidedly unnatural, for those going for a more offbeat look.

Natural fibers have come a long way too, thanks to advancements in varnish and resin coatings which inhibit wear, warping, cracking, and fading, as well as creating a strong barrier against water, insects and molds. However, natural fibers do require more upkeep than synthetic materials, thus making them less popular and increasingly hard to find.

Frame Fundamentals

A piece of furniture is only as strong as its frame. Even most natural weaves are equipped with metal frames these days. Aluminum is most common, being strong yet lightweight, not to mention rust-proof and immune to insects and elements.

Incorporating aluminum into wicker patio furniture has allowed construction of pieces previously unavailable in wood-only, such as swivel bar stools, double gliders, and even wicker serving carts.

Although extremely rare, it’s still possible to find wooden frames in natural wicker pieces, but again this makes the piece both more cumbersome and prone to decay if used outdoors. When it comes to frames, the advantages of aluminum far outweigh those of wood.

Maintenance Free Furniture

Modern wicker outdoor furniture is virtually maintenance free, requiring little more than the occasional spray with a hose for cleaning. Dirt and spills are easily wiped off of both synthetic and treated natural materials.

One of the more distinct advantages of using synthetic fibers is that the color is embedded throughout the material, so color is retained even if the piece scratched or chipped. Likewise high-quality synthetic wicker has built-in UV protection to inhibit fading, adding years to its life.

Vintage Charm in a Modern World

Wicker has a unique appeal in any setting, be it a rural farm or an urban business complex. Its rustic refinement is rarely matched in the furniture world, indoors or out. With the variety of styles, sizes, shapes and colors available today, it’s not difficult to find the perfect wicker piece for even the most discerning patio. If you’re in the market for outdoor furniture, wicker is definitely worth a second look!

 

Other blog articles you might find interesting:

How Ebel Outdoor Furniture Is Environmentally Conscience

Outdoor Patio Wicker Furniture Enhances Your Outdoor Living Areas

 

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