Rattan furniture seems to have roared to popularity in recent years, although one look at its history demonstrates that it is far from a ‘here today, gone tomorrow, possibly back another day’ trend.
So what exactly is rattan, how is it made and what else do you need to know about this perennially strong-selling, durable and versatile type of furniture?
An Introduction to Rattan
The term ‘rattan’ derives from the Malay rotan, and refers to the hundreds of species of old world climbing palms belonging to the Calamoideae subfamily. In layman’s terms, it is basically a tropical palm tree, albeit one that eventually bends back to the ground like a vine before snaking beneath the surface. It can be found in the jungles of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
There are few stronger types of wood than rattan, which helps to explain its popularity for the production of durable furniture. Rattan furniture gained popularity here in Britain when it was imported from the colonies in the Far East in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
How is Rattan Furniture Made?
According to WWF, furniture is the main end product of rattan. The stunning appearance of rattan furniture may lead many casual observers to presume it to be machine manufactured, but this isn’t the case – instead, rattan furniture is universally crafted by hand.
Rattan is a form of ‘wicker’ or woven furniture, although the first part of the furniture to be created is actually the aluminium frame that is then powder coated to guard against corrosion.
It is at this point that the weaving can commence, the vertical strands being fixed to the chair or table with a stapler. The weaving of the horizontal strands can then begin, resulting in the creation of the dense, almost solid finish associated with rattan furniture.
The rattan weave can differ in its density depending on such factors as the quality of the rattan and the skill of the weaver. However, the very hand-woven nature of rattan means there will always be slight variations between pieces, this indeed being central to the appeal of rattan furniture.
The Development of Synthetic Processes
While natural rattan furniture has undoubted aesthetic appeal, it does not withstand adverse weather conditions such as rain or frost very well. This has led to those on the lookout for outdoor rattan furniture to increasingly choose pieces woven in synthetic fibres that look just as good as natural rattan while remaining unaffected by mould, rust or wood-eating insects.
Synthetic rattan outdoor furniture sets are made in much the same way as their natural rattan equivalents, with many of them even being manufactured in the Far East, drawing upon the same traditional weaving expertise used for natural rattan.
Although there are similarities between the respective processes by which traditional rattan furniture and synthetic rattan furniture sets are made, there are also certain key differences. Synthetic rattan tends to be far more durable than the natural equivalent and often includes UV proofing additives to ensure the resultant furniture does not fade for decades, even when regularly exposed to natural light.
Why is Outdoor Rattan Furniture So Popular?
Outdoor furniture sets made from synthetic rattan have proved increasingly popular over the past decade for various reasons, not least their sheer resistance to outdoor elements, including both moisture and UV light. Such furniture remains beautiful and durable even when left out in harsh conditions and is very easy to care for in general, only requiring routine cleaning and not needing to be lacquered or stored indoors.
There is also hardly any difference between natural rattan and synthetic rattan furniture in terms of the comfort provided by each – both can be complemented by cushions and pillows to make them look even more welcoming for outdoor living.
These characteristics, combined with the tendency for the best-quality synthetic outdoor rattan furniture to be almost indistinguishable in appearance from natural rattan furniture, should make it unsurprising that it is such a common sight in hot countries. Synthetic rattan makes a great choice of material for hotel furniture, as it can be placed in outdoor areas such as balconies or near swimming pools without the hotel operator having to worry about it being left there by guests.
Welcome to the World of Modern Rattan Furniture
Such benefits of synthetic rattan as its durability, ease of cleaning and stunning appearance are leading more and more hotel chains to choose it when they are in the market for outdoor rattan furniture.
Opt for synthetic rattan for your own hotel outdoor furniture, taking advantage of our range here at Skyline Design including premium rattan sofas, corner sofas, loungers and dining sets, and you can soon realise the full potential of a form of furniture combining the very best of old and new.