Skyline Design UK Premium Quality All Weather Outdoor Furniture

What is Rattan?

Article by Nick Rinylo

What is Rattan?

What is rattan? And where does it come from? We know that it looks aesthetically pleasing and works well in our homes, but what is it actually?

Rattan is a close relative of the palm tree. It’s a flexible and strong vine that is naturally renewable and grows abundantly in its ideal environments. The ease of it’s availability has made it a popular furniture choice for a long time, but unfortunately it’s often not available in the U.K and other European countries as it can easily rot if not looked after in damp conditions.

Often in the U.K furniture designers use synthetic Rattan (or Rattan effect) which is commonly made from PVC, PE or PU. These materials will vary in quality and price, with Rattan effect PE being the longest lasting. It also requires the least maintenance and is the highest quality, as it is protected from deteriorating in damp conditions and isn’t damaged by UV rays.

There’s a lot of positives that rattan (and rattan effect) furniture can bring to your home and garden. Not only is it lightweight and durable, but it’s weatherproof, low maintenance and easy to keep clean, hardwearing, works indoors and outdoors, looks modern and is very comfortable.

The Origins of Rattan

The Rattan plant originates from the tropical regions of Asia, Africa and Australia. It generally grows in the hilly areas with tropical conditions. There are 13 different types of rattan palms, with some reaching lengths of up to 100 metres tall. Rattan palms are supported with a sheath that has a spine which acts as a layer of protection. This spine also supports the vine to help it grow up over other plants and trees. 

Despite Rattan effect furniture being so prevalent in the U.K and European countries, Rattan continues to be an invaluable part of rural people’s livelihoods in South and Southeast Asia.

The Distribution of Rattan

Rattan is a great resource because of the process of growing, harvesting, and distributing it. It’s easy to transport, it grows faster than trees, and it’s easy to harvest. The majority of rattan is located in Indonesia’s forest and in the Philippines. Unfortunately, there’s been a shortage of rattan due to forests being torn down for land. 

Rattan canes are cut in the forest for ease of transportation and then partially processed before being sold to manufacturers. Large canes are boiled in oil to protect them from insects and dry them out, and thinner/smaller canes are dried and then smoked with sulphur. 

Places such as Cambodia and Vietnam rely heavily on the rattan trade as this accounts for up to 50% of their income. In Vietnam, they build the rattan products and then ship overseas with a vast 60% distribution to Europe.

Use of Rattan

Did you know that rattan isn’t just used for furniture? It has a wide range of uses, due to being so strong and flexible. Here are some of the things Rattan can be used for: 

  • Food. Some Rattan fruits are edible. They’re extremely sour, with an intense citrus taste. 
  • Shelter. In rural areas in South and Southeast Asia, rattan is an approved building material. 
  • Furniture (of course!). Rattan is mainly used for furniture production due to its modern look, durability and versatility. 
  • Crafts. Besides furniture, rattan’s main use is for crafting things like baskets. 

If you’re sold on Rattan and Rattan effect furniture, here at Skyline we offer a huge range of rattan furniture, with something for every garden. So whether you’ve got a big family or you’re a family of one, whether you’ve got acres of garden or a tiny patio, whether you’re looking for a daybed to go by the pool or a just a little parasol, we’ve got you covered. Contact us today or visit one of our U.K stockists.

This presentation was brought to you by SkyLine Design UK, suppliers of premium quality all-weather outdoor furniture and lighting option.