The Zen of Bamboo

by Dorothea

Don’t pooh-pooh bamboo! Versatile and simple, it crops up in many guises

HokusaiBamboo copyHokusai – bamboo

A miracle of nature, bamboo is a multi talented material not only strong and practical but also beautiful in its simplicity and grace. I have a deep attraction for anything “bamboo” themed. It is the form and “vibe” of bamboo that I am most interested in. That is what the Italian fashion brand Gucci and some of the more exotic objects and jewelry I describe have in common. I also found some surprising and unexpected ways bamboo can be used! More will be revealed at the end of this post.

Gucci label

But first my love for the classic Gucci bag! Born from wartime rationing in 1947 in Italy, the original Gucci Bamboo bag was a small constructed handbag crafted in pigskin with a curved bamboo handle. After years of searching on Ebay, I finally managed to buy that treasured bag for a fraction of its original price.

GucciBagThe classic Gucci bamboo handled handbag.

Bamboo cane, which could still be imported from Japan, was heated and bent into a semi-circle, and affixed as a decorative handle on the pebbled pigskin body. The bag has been a hit for Gucci ever since, but the new designs have too many bells and whistles for my taste. The construction of each bag is made with the same techniques used for the original model and requires 13 hours of craftsmanship to guarantee the perfection of the details.

GuccibambooshoedahliaRecent Gucci sandal

Every man’s (and woman’s) must-have accessory should be a bamboo handled umbrella: timeless, practical and beautiful. Where I live in Normandy is a charming small umbrella factory, with drawers full of vintage handles, amongst them some Italian bamboo handles, with their original string to keep them shaped.

UmbrellaThe ultimate “brollie”

Here are some fun ‘bamboo’ themed everyday objects:

PenBox 2Vintage silver pen and pillbox

Bamboo themed jewelry, real gold to costume, is always fashionable!

BraceletsCostume jewelry gold bamboo bracelets – Ralph Lauren

verduraCufflinksFrom my favorite jewelers Verdura: bamboo cufflinks.

In the Far east, bamboo is used for an enormous variety of things, from panda food to chopsticks, but one amazing practical use of bamboo is:

BambooScaffoldScaffolding! A work of art! In Burma

For my Dutch friends, this is the coolest bike:

bamboobikeA bamboo bicycle

And most surprisingly I found this exquisite 18th century antique French table made of bamboo:

bambooTable 2More amusing “bamboo” themed objects:

bamboo chandelierBamboo chandelier

bamboo mirrorBamboo themed mirror

I will stop my “bamboozling” here and end with a Japanese proverb:

“The taller the bamboo grows, the lower it bends…”

HokusaiHokusai – Bamboo and wind blossoms – circa 1807-13