A 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.
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 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.