Wicker weaving is an ancient craft, with woven items discovered in the ancient Egyptian tombs of Pharaohs. Early forms of the craft were baskets and later the ancient Romans were inspired by the Egyptian woven furniture and took it on as their own. As trade routes opened to Asia, the history of rattan in the West fast-tracked as it was discovered to be a wonderfully strong material to work with.
While wicker refers to the craft of weaving, rattan is the weaving material. While not always, this material is rattan because it’s strong, flexible and durable. Rattan is the core of the reed, while the outer is actually cane, another popular material.
Rattan is a beautiful product which is grown in the tropical regions of Africa and Asia, with the majority coming from the forests of Indonesia. It’s an important part of many communities, providing them with a livelihood. It grows faster than timber and is easily harvested and transported, making it an attractive material.
Despite some common characteristics, there is a great degree of variety in terms of form and growth, resulting in roughly 600 different species of rattan. Although the majority of species currently identiﬁed are of Asian origin, 20 of them are endemic in Africa. The diameter of the stems varies between 3 mm to more than 20 cm, and the length ranges from a few metres to more than 200 m.
In general, rattan can be divided into two main groups, based on how it is used and the diameter of the cane. Rattan can be grown and harvested in a sustainable manner due to its rapid growth and its ability to adapt to a very wide variety of ecological conditions. In addition, its use in furniture production provides an alternative to timber logging and thereby contributes to the protection of forest resources Moving to more contemporary times, rattan has graced our homes in waves of popularity, notably in Victorian times, the 60’s and 70’s and again now. From furniture through to accessories and lighting, rattan and wicker crafts are appreciated for its exotic aesthetic, strength and warmth.
Rattan vines are harvested and the different diamater vines are used for different components of the furniture piece.
The Rattan skin can be stripped from the core and used for finer weaving or furniture, baskets and other homewares products.
The rattan vines are heated using a steam oven. The vines then become soft and can be shaped to create specific parts of the furniture.
Rattan vines being shaped for use in dining chairs.
The shaped pieces are them assembled by hand to ultimately create a unique piece of furniture.
Satara supplies a large range of hi-quality rattan furniture and homewares . Here's a photo of Andrew the owner inspecting furniture in one of our factories.