Growing up we always had a few pieces of Riempie furniture in our house, and it is a popular furniture style which can be found in South African homes. These ranged from dining room chairs to small folding field stools, which we still use today. I love having these pieces in our home, and continue to draw inspiration from their intriquing, yet simple style and a reminder of my childhood.
Pictured here is an original South African Riempie chair 19th Century, (The riempies have been replaced)
It is believed that Riempie furniture finds its origin from early Cape furniture, which appeared in homes around the 1700s in South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. This furniture style derived from European sources, mostly Dutch culture, notably German and some French influences according to Hans Franzen, author of the book The Cape Chair. Examples of this include the Tulbagh Chair, from the Tulbagh range circa 1800s. These chairs’ took design inspiration from the straight lines of neoclassical furniture and featured riempie (untanned leather strips) seating. An example of the Tulbagh Chair is featured on the cover of The Cape Chair book, pictured below:
The riempie are suprisingly strong, and while the leather will wear over time, it can be replaced. The simplicity in the untanned leather strips and how it is woven together makes any seat unique and makes any space feel light. How do you incorporate furntiture styles from the past in your home?
Click here to view our Riempie Bench.
H. Franzen. (1970). The Cape Chair/Die Kaapse Stoel. Stellenbosch Museum.
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