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What is the difference between rattan and wicker?

Do you know your rattan from your wicker? Rattan furniture is bang on trend right now for its versatility in a range of interior decorating styles. From super-modern city apartments to suburban semis, you will find stylish rattan furniture to complement any space.  

But let’s not get in a tangle! Before we look at the benefits of rattan furniture, we need to clear up the confusion between rattan and wicker. Rattan, a naturally grown, vine-like plant fibre is lightweight, durable and flexible. It’s native to the tropical regions of Asia, Australia, and Africa that can be bent into a variety of delicate shapes. Where wicker is a type of weave used for making products woven from a variety of pliable plant materials. 

A brief history of wicker

So, let’s start at the very beginning, wicker was first discovered buried with the pharaohs in ancient Egypt. Inspired by this technique, the Romans adopted the practice of basket weaving, which soon spread across the entire Roman Empire. 

The rise of trade with Asia saw the explosion of wicker goods in Northern Europe during the 19th century. Rattan furniture soon spread across the British Empire, from India to the West Indies, and then to England, where the Victorians were captivated with rattan’s civilised exoticism. 

Learn more about Desser’s history with rattan dating back over 100 years.

So, why is rattan so popular? Let’s look at some of the benefits of this versatile material that has lasted the test of time. 

 Why is rattan furniture so timeless?

Admittingly, rattan is a traditional material used to create woven pieces of furniture. However, it has evolved to create a contemporary aesthetic with the introduction of minimalistic colours and patterns on the upholstery, modern rattan looks very different to the furniture of the past and is undeniably a fashion-forward piece of decor. 

The blend of traditional techniques and contemporary styling means that rattan furniture is in the fortunate place of working with all types of decor. Whether you have a minimalist loft or a mid-century modern barn, rattan furniture will complement any interior concept, adding texture and an eclectic twist. 

Is rattan furniture great value for money?

As a premium material, rattan isn’t cheap, but compared to other materials it is an economical buy. Not only does the rattan market offer a competitive price, but the material is also long-lasting. Rattan’s durability means it won’t need to be replaced as often as other types of furniture, making it a worthwhile investment.  

How lightweight is rattan furniture?

As a lightweight material, rattan has a smaller carbon footprint when shipping the vine from its native Southeast Asia to other parts of the world. This also provides many benefits in your home – rattan furniture is easy to move from room to room. 

Is rattan furniture durable?

The ideology that rattan furniture is associated with occasional use in conservatories, isn’t the case. Modern rattan furniture is far more robust and is capable of withstanding heavy and regular use and is suitable as lounge furniture in spaces such as living rooms and bedrooms. 

Is Rattan Sustainable?

Rattan grows similarly to a weed, growing up tree trucks in the rainforest. The material used to manufacture furniture grows seven times faster than wood from a tree, with rattan vines growing up to 200 meters in length. Harvesting is done by hand with the tip of the vine being replanted to repeat the process. 

To produce our natural rattan furniture, we work with partners that promote Fair Trade ethics, meaning that rattan farmers are always paid a fair wage for their work. Our strict rattan sourcing policies ensure that farmers and factories in some of the world’s poorest countries are supported. 

If you’re looking to invest in a piece of rattan furniture visit our collection of modern designs inspired by traditional wicker making. Made from natural rattan, we have a huge array of items including chairs, sofas, baskets and planters to choose from.  

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