Getting to know Rattan all other again
Rattan vs Wicker vs Cane?
Lets start with wicker, a common term we all tend to use to describe furniture made from a 'natural' woven material. Well we are almost right, wicker is actually the process or the technique used to weave different materials together.
Generally, wicker, refers to the weaving of branches or vines around wooden or metal frame to produce furniture hence the term wickerwork. Of course wickerwork can be made from natural materials or synthetic.
Wickerwork tends to use reeds, bamboo and cane, but can also use rattan. These materials are light weight and durable however they are also porous and will absorb water, making them better suited to indoor use.
Rattan is considered an 'old world' plant originating from South East Asia. It grows like a tree but produces vines that grow back down toward the ground so is relatively easy to harvest. Unlike bamboo, rattan is very strong and durable making it the material of choice throughout Asia.
Rattan furniture is made by heating the wood, making it pliable, and bending it into the desired shape. When the wood cools it retains its new shape. This makes rattan a flexible material in making furniture but also other goods, such as baskets, mirror frames, baskets and bags.
Cane is the hollow jointed stem of a tall grass, such as sugar cane or bamboo but can also be the stem of a palm, such as rattan.
Cane is less porous than other natural materials used in the wicker process so it is easier to clean and maintain. More often than not, cane is left in its natural state unlike rattan which is often painted. Like rattan, cane is inexpensive to harvest and manufacture furniture compared to hard woods.
Caring for your wickerwork
Wickerwork is very durable and will last a long time if treated in the right way. Being a woven piece, wicker furniture is prone to accumulating dust and dirt.
- Dust wicker furniture regularly, furniture polish can repel dust for days.
- Protect your furniture with an appropriate lacquer product (once a year)
- Furniture that is very dirty may need soap and water to clean it thoroughly
Why is Rattan 'on trend'?
Rattan furniture last experienced popularity back in the 70's and 80's, I know my Mum had a book case and coffee table!
Some people may also recall that Wickerwork was popular before this time, in the 50's and 60's, in combination with teak. European designers, especially the Danish, experimented with a range of different materials during the post war era. Today, rattan is being re-imagined and revitalised to fit the current styles and trends in our homes.
Scandinavian design has been a huge force over the past few years and doesn't look like its going anywhere soon! Rattan furniture and design fits beautifully into this style with its natural finish and light weight look.
Hamptons or Beach style
Another clear favourite right now is the relaxed and fresh Hamptons look. Hamptons style is synonymous with crisp white and beautiful blues, sea greens and natural timbers (see more at Hamptons style).
Beach homes with wide verandahs often use wickerwork furniture because it is hard wearing, durable and relatively easy to look after.
One of the hotter, if not the hottest, styles right now is Mid-Century Modern (MCM). The hallmark of MCM is the beautiful clean simple lines in all the designs around the late 40's, 50's and the start of the 60's. Many of the more well known designers hailed from Denmark, hence the closeness in style to Scandinavian design of the same era (see more at Mid-Century Modern).
MCM designers used rattan and other natural materials in combination with and as a feature in design. Many 'trademark' styles, such as the egg chair, were also made using rattan.
The Tribal trend
This trend is a big one for 2017, and it will feature across all major fashion and homewares design houses. As the name suggests its all about tribal symbols, artefacts and the use of natural fibres and textures across furniture, flooring and decor. Of course rattan and wickerwork fits in with this trend beautifully.