Furniture Material: Rattan

Hey! Want to know a secret? Well, it’s not exactly a secret! But more like in an insight that rattan style furniture will continue to be a trend in 2021 as it is a simple way to bring character into your home. In this article, we are going to discuss rattan as furniture material.

Rattan Furniture

Rattan furniture is made from rattan vines which are woven together to create outdoor furniture, which is commonly used in the summer months. It can be either natural or synthetic. Besides teak, the material that we often use as a furniture supplier in Bali is rattan.

Rattan is a natural climbing plant that grows in the Indonesian rainforest and regenerates within 5-7 years, making it one of the fastest-growing materials for furniture. It has been known to grow up to a hundred meters long. When rattan is harvested, it is cut into 13-foot lengths, and the dry sheathing is removed. Its stems are dried in the sun and then stored for seasoning. Then, these long rattan poles are straightened, graded by diameter and quality (judged by its nodes; the fewer internodes, the better), and shipped to furniture manufacturers. Rattan’s outer bark is used for caning, while its inner reed-like section is used to weave wicker furniture. Wicker is the weaving process, not an actual plant or material. Introduced to the West during the early 19th century, rattan has become the standard material for caning2. Its strength and ease of manipulation (manipulability) have made it one of the most popular of the many natural materials used in wickerwork.

Natural Rattan Chair - Blog Post Furniture Material Rattan

Natural Rattan Chair | Source:

Rattan as a Furniture Material

Its popularity as a material for furniture—both outdoor and indoor—is unmistakable. Able to be bent and curved, rattan takes on many wonderful curving forms. Its light, golden color brightens a room or outdoor environment and instantly conveys a feeling of a tropical paradise.

As a material, rattan is lightweight and almost impervious and is easy to move and handle. It can withstand extreme conditions of humidity and temperature and has a natural resistance to insects. Rattan is strong, lightweight, flexible, and durable.

Rattan Materials Pattern - Blog Post Furniture Material Rattan

Rattan Materials Pattern | Source:

A rattan is a close relative of the palm tree. It is a type of vine that rapidly grows in the jungles of the South-East region. Rattan is one of the strongest woods available and possesses the ability to grow as high as a hundred feet. Its flexible nature and easy availability have made it a popular choice for furniture for hundreds of years. 

History: Rattan in the 20th Century

During the height of the British Empire in the 19th century, bamboo and other tropical furniture were extremely popular. Families once stationed in the tropics and Asian countries returned to England with their bamboo and rattan furnishings, which were usually brought indoors because of the cool English climate.

History of Rattan Furniture - Blog Post Furniture Material Rattan

History of Rattan Furniture | Source:

By the early 20th century, Philippine-made rattan furniture began to show up in the United States, as travelers brought it back on steamships. Earlier 20th-century rattan furniture was designed in the Victorian style. Hollywood set designers began using rattan furniture in many outdoor scenes, whetting the appetites for movie-going and style-conscious audiences, who loved anything that had to do with the idea of those romantic, far-off South Seas islands. A style was born: Call it Tropical Deco, Hawaiiana, Tropical, Island, or South Seas.

Are Rattan and Bamboo the Same Thing?

For the record, rattan and bamboo are not from the same plant or species. Bamboo is a hollow grass with horizontal growth ridges along its stems. It was used to build small pieces of furniture and accessories in the late 1800s and early 1900s, especially in tropical locales. A few bamboo furniture manufacturers incorporated rattan poles for their smoothness and added strength. Want to know more about bamboo? Make sure to check our blog next week.

Maintain Rattan Furniture - Blog Post Kaliuda Gallery Bali

Maintain Rattan Furniture | Source:

How to Maintain Rattan Furniture?

You don’t need any fancy cleaning products to keep your rattan garden furniture spick and span. Some dishwashing detergent, a bowl of warm water, a soft cloth, a toothbrush, and some lacquer are all you need to maximize your furniture’s longevity.

  • Add some dish detergent into a bowl of water and stir to create bubbles.
  • Dip a soft cloth into the bubbles only and wipe the rattan. The moisture cleans the rattan without over wetting it, causing damage. 
  • Use an old toothbrush to get into the cracks and crevices.
  • Allow to dry and then apply a coat of lacquer with a paintbrush for added protection. Use boiled linseed oil to restore any cracks. If you do use linseed oil, make sure it is boiled and not raw as this will not dry. 
  • To remove tough stains, apply the detergent and scrub with more water than stated above. If the rattan is quite wet, use a hairdryer to help it dry quicker or leave it out in the sun. 
  • If you cover your rattan furniture with waterproof cushions they will withstand the rain. However, if you don’t own waterproof cushions (or prefer a pared-back look), you should take your rattan furniture indoors. When it rains, the water passes through the fabric, deep inside the material. The next day, in the sunshine, it will feel dry to the touch but, as soon as you sit on it, the water will seep upwards and you’ll get wet. So, make sure to use a waterproof cushion for your outdoor rattan furniture. 
Layout Design for a Villa Project by Kaliuda Gallery Bali

Layout Design for a Villa Project by Kaliuda Gallery Bali


Rattan furniture is timeless, it is as glamorous as it is bohemian and offers all of the above when used as an accent feature in any interior space. Whilst some eras have dismissed its glamour, rattan is now having a much-awaited moment in the spotlight. Functional and applicable in every room of the house, from the bathroom to the kitchen, rattan is perfect for bringing those 70s Hollywood vibes, a relaxed contemporary edge, or a snippet of Mediterranean style into any space. Go Casual and compliment rattan with wood and white for a chic yet ever so classic aesthetic. Rattan is also widely used in Bali as outdoor furniture.

The most incredible thing about rattan is its ability to transcend across a myriad of interior styles and trends, making it the ultimate home must-have just like our  Layout design for a villa project above! For inspiration for your outdoor living and dining spaces visit our Pinterest board or alternatively join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to get first pickings on our new collections with exclusive discounts as and when they arrive! 

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