When I was in college I used to make a trip to two of my favorite vintage stores almost every weekend. One was the well known Jet Rag $1 Sunday sale and if you live in LA, and have been, you know the joys of digging through mounds and mounds of clothes in the early morning. The other was a medium sized store on Melrose that supplied me with some of my most treasured dresses. Every time I went there I knew I would leave with something special. That hunt for something unique is what gave me the energy to dig through the overstuffed racks and boxes. Once I moved into my own place and started furnishing with pieces that didn’t come from Ikea I took my love of vintage clothes and directed it to a growing obsession for home goods. Much like the racks of clothes, the stacks of plates and cups, silver and china, furniture and books would get me excited to dig for hours. The thrill of finding a silver serving piece for $10 could make the entire afternoon of hunting worthwhile. This appreciation for the classics, the traditional craftsmanship of things both wearable and not, inspires my styling choices and of late, my apartment decor. Interior design has undoubtedly gone the way of “what’s old is new again” with mid-century modern outfitting the most modern of homes, tables adorned with silver and china from a storied past, bar carts packed with bitters and high balls, and my current favorite, the modern approach to seventies macrame.
Some of us can vividly remember an elderly person’s home with a beige or brown knitted plant hanger, most likely adorned with wooden beads, holding some sort of green leafy living thing. Extra points if that same home has a similarly colored chotsky hanging from a door nob somewhere. Needless to say, macrame hasn’t always been seen in the same loving light that Don Draper’s office bar cart has received. The modern and forward thinking minds of several artists have, on the other hand, taken those old ropes and turned them into wall hangings that are strikingly beautiful additions to any room. Done in pristine and modern white or textured neons and wools, these wall “sculptures” follow that same dedication to craftsmanship that is key in any good modern revival. These designers have managed to make pieces that appear anything but outdated, while interior aficionados are finding unique ways to work them into a home environment.
I have been searching for the perfect macrame wall hanging ever since I began putting together my office and bedroom. My husband Paul is a little weary of the trend, but I’ve assured him that these weavings are the way to go…and that I’m the designer here. The company All Roads creates some of the most intricate versions I have seen and their gold leaf, silk, and sheep wool varieties are like collecting a piece of fine art. Owners Robert Dougherty and Janelle Pietrzak are talented artisans that have a knack for creating almost anything with their combined carpentry, sewing, welding, and weaving skills. Their clients validate why these pieces are so coveted with names like Anthropologie and Proenza Schouler topping the list. Another artist who is adding to the growing macarame scene is Michigan’s own Sally England. Sally uses natural material and traditional knotting to evoke a serene setting within a home, using soft colors and neutrals to accent each piece.
Macrame doesn’t have to be reserved for large walls and heavy statement pieces; a piece can be as simple as a few dangling tassels accented with bright colors. Tamara Maynes and Philippa Taylor both take the minimal approach with neutral cotton strands that have been dipped in bright colors then suspended from objects like branches, copper pipe, or simple rings. A single strand of tassels hanging from one end of a bed to another is a great way to follow the trend while keeping the overall look clean and simple. A long more textured version can act as an eye catching piece between two windows, while several medium weavings can be interspersed in a gallery wall to break up the grid of frames.
Almost everywhere I look macrame is hanging on the walls of some of the best artisanal, local, and popular stores and restaurants. The next step is to find the perfect creation to crown a few walls in our apartment, one that Paul can get behind and one that erases any thought of those dingy seventies versions that are hopefully gone for good.