Pronunciation:
Ruh-Tan
Meaning:
A thick stem of a palm tree used to make furniture
Original Name:
Rautan
Origins:
Tropical regions of Asia & Africa.

The History of Rattan

Rattan is a vine that grows in Asia and Africa's tropical regions.

The word rattan likely comes from the Malay word "rotan", which means "the stem of a palm tree." Rattan is a thin, robust and flexible vine that can grow up to 600 feet long. It has been used for centuries to make furniture and baskets, first found in homes in Egypt where they wove many wicker baskets. While rattan furniture has its roots in Africa, it became popularised in Asia due to its trade roots. Once found in tombs of pharaohs, it quickly became the seat of choice for expat families spending time overseas. It really solidified itself into the world of interior design during the colonial era.

The British and Dutch East India Companies were mainly responsible for introducing rattan furniture to the Western world. Rattan quickly became popular among the European colonial powers due to its durability and beauty. It was also seen as a more affordable alternative to other types of wood, such as mahogany. Rattan furniture became even more popular in the West when the Sultan of Brunei gave Queen Victoria a rattan settee.

Rattan's popularity only continued to grow in the 20th century. By the mid-1900s, rattan furniture was being mass-produced and was becoming increasingly affordable. Rattan continued to be popular in the West even after the colonial era ended. In the mid-20th century, rattan became associated with leisure and relaxation thanks to its popularity in resort towns such as Palm Springs, California. Often thought to be a style reserved for the outdoors, the British made it an indoor affair with their rattan chairs flanked with towering palms.

Image by Danilo Scarpati

British Textile Designer William Morris is credited with popularising rattan furniture in the Western world. Morris was influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement, which advocated for a return to simple, handcrafted objects. Rattan furniture fit this aesthetic perfectly, and Morris began incorporating it into his own designs.

How Rattan Furniture Is Woven

Rattan is a sustainable material as it grows quickly, much like bamboo, and can be harvested without damaging the environment. It is also good to note that it provides income and employment for many people in developing countries. Rattan can only be found in tropical areas as it needs a hot and humid climate to thrive. The outside of the rattan palm is removed to reveal the slender, strong, and flexible inner core. This inner core is what is used to make homeware.

Rattan furniture is made by hand-weaving rattan wood into a variety of different shapes, making each piece unique. The most common Rattan weave is the diamond weave, created by weaving Rattan strips in a criss-cross pattern. This type of weave is incredibly strong and durable, making it perfect for furniture that will be used daily, like dining chairs.

Q&A

Is rattan trendy?
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How long does rattan furniture last?
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What's the difference between rattan and wicker?
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Is rattan trendy?

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Rattan furniture has been around for centuries, but it has recently made a comeback in the world of interior design. Rattan is often seen as being more rustic and old-fashioned than other materials such as metal or plastic. However, rattan furniture can also be very chic, boho, and modern. It all depends on how you style it!

It currently encompasses a few interiors trends; sustainability, the use of natural materials and with the use of brown tones.

How long does rattan furniture last?

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Rattan furniture can last for years, even decades, if it is correctly cared for.

So, how can you properly care for your rattan furniture? Rattan furniture is relatively low maintenance. Simply dust your rattan furniture regularly with a soft cloth to remove any dirt or debris. If your rattan furniture gets wet, wipe it down with a dry cloth. You can also use a vacuum attachment to reach any hard-to-reach areas. Rattan furniture can also be spot cleaned using a mild soap and water solution.

What's the difference between rattan and wicker?

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Rattan is the material, while wicker is the technique. It's important to know that not all rattan furniture is created equal. There are three types of rattan:

- Natural Rattan: This type of rattan is the most durable because it's harvested from older trees. It's also the most expensive.

- Rattan Peel: Rattan peel is harvested from younger trees and is, therefore, less durable.

- Synthetic Rattan: This type of rattan is made from plastic and is the most affordable, less durable, and not environmentally friendly.

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Why Rattan Furniture Is Still So Popular

Rattan furniture is known for its balance of durability and beauty, which is why it is still such an enduring design style today. But it also has several other benefits that make it an ideal choice for your home. Rattan is a very strong type of wood, which makes it perfect for heavy-use areas such as living rooms and bedrooms. It is also resistant to rot and pests, which means it can be used outdoors as well as indoors. Rattan furniture is also relatively lightweight, which makes it easy to move around your home.

Many love rattan furniture because it straddles the line between indoor and outdoor living. This means that you can use rattan furniture to replicate an outdoor oasis in the comforts of your home, particularly if you lack a dedicated outdoor space. This is an effortless way to bring a more laid-back feel into the home that can help ease the mind for contemporary troubles.

Shop the Ming Rattan Chair

Rattan is a highly versatile material that can be used in a variety of ways, everything from elaborate armchairs, lighting, and baskets to carpets and shelves. Each of which brings a rustic yet elevated touch to the home with its earthy materials. It lends itself perfectly to Japandi, mid-Japandi, wabi-sabi and rural-inspired interiors because it feels unpretentious yet carries itself with an elegance.

As we become increasingly interested in slow living and creating cosy spaces, rattan furniture is the perfect way to add a touch of rustic luxury to your home. It weaves the aesthetics of nature into our daily lives, which has been proven to benefit our mental health. Rattan is also a sustainable material as it grows quickly and can decompose naturally over time. Additionally, rattan furniture is often seen as being more comfortable than other types of furniture, such as metal or plastic.

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