Shopping for furniture: Fiji, Orkney chairs

Fit for Fiji

I took my first trip to Fiji in August ’05. Our group of six flew from Los Angeles to Nadi, changed planes and flew to the second-largest island in the Fijian chain, Vanua Levu. We spent the next week at the wonderful Koro Sun Resort & Rainforest Spa (in the U.S., call 877/567-6786 or visit My personal feeling about this area of Fiji is that I did not realize that a place like this still existed on Planet Earth.

After the Koro Sun experience, we spent the remaining part of our journey on Malolo Island at the Malolo Island Resort (P.O. Box 10044, Nadi airport, Fiji Islands; visit Although the resort is nice, there is no comparison between this island and Vanua Levu. Vanua Levu is a pristine island with no commercialization, and the Fijian culture is still intact there.

While staying at the Koro Sun, we were impressed with the beauty, quality and strength of construction of the furniture in the lobby and dining areas. Leather and exposed woods gave us a feeling of relaxed island luxury. Upon inquiring, we found that the furniture was built by a company located on Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu. The company’s name is Pacific Green Industries (Fiji), Ltd. (contact Pacific Green Florida, 300 Aragon Ave., Ste. 100, Coral Gables, FL 33134; phone 305/448-0565 or visit

Made of coconut wood and leather, it is a striking example of good taste and quality and a good fit for this South Sea island paradise.


Visalia, CA

Orkney chairs

Three old Orkney chairs with backs woven of “simmons” (thick woven straw rope) — Corrigall Old Farm Museum, just off the A-986 highway on Mainland, Orkney Islands. Photo: Hinkle

On a visit my wife, Margaret, and I made to the Orkney and Shetland islands in 1997 (June ’98, pg. 127), we became familiar with “Orkney chairs.”

Orkney chairs are straight, high-backed chairs with curved sides to protect a person from drafts. They have either wooden backs or backs woven of thick straw rope. Some have built-in bottom drawers for storage.

Woodworking shops in Kirkwall build various styles of these chairs and ship them to people for their homes. During our visit, the curiously attractive, full-sized chairs were selling for several hundred pounds, but 4- to 5-inch-high models were priced £20-£35 ($33-$58).

Though we didn’t purchase one, we were greatly impressed with these chairs. These days, handmade Orkney chairs can be ordered over the Internet, though their cost is considerably more than what we found in shops in Kirkwall.


Tucson, AZ