Rattan baskets and bags in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. Rattan

Rattan baskets and bags in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
© Upstarinwore and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence.

Rattan is a great natural product that’s used way beyond furniture. It’s durable, lightweight and flexible. It can be coloured, is splinter-resistant and can be used outdoors. It’s great for decoration and a host of useful things.

Move deeper into the rattan jungle to get the natural look

Rattan furniture  – chairs, sofas, shelving – is well known, of course. It’s been around for centuries. Did you know that other decorative and useful things around the home can also be made of this natural resource?

First, a few words about rattan. It’s made from different species of vine which grow rapidly in the jungles of South East Asia. The vines grow in a pole shape, from a few millimetres in diameter up to 5–7 cm.

Weaving and wood

Raw rattan provides thin weaving material from the outer skin, wood for furniture from the core, and material for wickerwork from the inner core.

Great for decoration

Rattan is lightweight so it’s great for wooden blinds.

It’s very durable so it’s good for floor runners and mats. And it can be coloured very easily.

Plaited and dyed rattan mat. Natural

Plaited and dyed rattan mat from Borneo, Malaysia. Work of the Dayak people, 20th century.
Held in Honolulu Museum of Art.
© Hiart and licensed under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

It’s also good for baskets and containers of all kinds: big baskets for keeping ‘stuff’ in, medium-sized ones for wastepaper basket and smaller ones like dim sum baskets in some areas.

Staying in the kitchen, rattan’s flexibility makes it ideal for whisks.

Most of us have a vacuum cleaner these days but lightweight and durable rattan carpet beaters are still useful for cleaning valuable carpets and delicate woollen blankets and shawls. And they look great when they’re at rest.

And for flexible, durable and splinter-resistant canes and handles, look no further. Rattan has been used for walking sticks and the crooks of high-end umbrellas for decades. It’s used for the handles of keyboard percussion mallets like the xylophone, vibraphone and marimba. And as staves in martial arts.

And you can use it outdoors. Rattan plant containers look good.

Rattan, naturally

Explore rattan beyond furniture. It's a great natural product.