The History of Rattan Garden Furniture

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There are no other type of outdoor and cheap garden furniture sets that are as gorgeous and durable as rattan. You can enjoy comfortable seating to relax and unwind in the company of others while knowing you have furniture that’s beautiful and built to last.

But have you ever thought about where rattan comes from? That stunning rattan outdoor furniture has a rich history. Here we take a closer look at it, from ancient Egypt to the Victorian era and right through to the modern-day. Let’s take a look!

Botanical History of Rattan

Rattan is a natural material that grows very fast. Many people believe that it comes from a tree but instead, it comes from a vine. The length of the vine varies in feet as it attaches itself to a tree to find light underneath the forest canopy.

There are more than 600 species found in Africa, Asia, and Australia. Yet, the biggest variety you’ll see is in Indonesia. With this information, it’s unsurprising to find out that Indonesia is the leading supplier of rattan in the world.

The vine has more uses than just rattan garden furniture, though. For example, the vine bears a fruit filled with red resin. People use the resin to make paint, varnish, and even incense. It also has other uses, including for use in musical instruments such as the violin.

People also use rattan in traditional medicine, where it has a long history. As time progressed, people used it to weave baskets and make wicker garden furniture.

The History of Ancient Rattan Furniture 

The garden furniture sets that we loved today can trace their history back to Egypt. During an expedition to the Nile, archaeologists discovered furniture made of marsh grass and reeds. This early wooden garden furniture dated all the way back to 3000 BC.

The rattan we use today was most likely a product of this time and it increasingly became used to make furniture in the region. Once the civil war between Octavian and Cleopatra happened, with Egypt ending up under the power of Rome, weaved outdoor rattan furniture sets became popular with the Romans.

Great, but how did England get a hold of it? As with many things the Romans got their hands on, their methods, techniques, and materials spread throughout their empire. This is what led to the material being commonly used in Britain. But separately, China was having its own revolution too.

Rattan in the Victorian Era 

When Queen Victoria reigned (1837-1901), the idea of having rattan furniture really blossomed in the country. Although the qualities of the material were known, it hadn’t yet been fully used to its potential.

The furniture had an artistic appearance that was made more solid, breathable, and comfortable. Whether it was for making patio furniture, garden chairs, and garden tables, the British soon saw the benefits of high-quality rattan furniture.

At that time, people were used to sitting on metal and rigid wooden chairs. So having rattan furniture made a huge difference when it came to relaxing. And this love for rattan furniture spread to America too.

In the 1840s, rattan furniture sets became the in thing for Americans. By the mid-1850s, the Americans explored the advantage of using rattan as the New World arrived. So the use of rattan garden furniture became popular on both sides of the Atlantic.

Around this time you had companies like Wakefield who changed the game for what was possible with rattan furniture. This progression included creating and manufacturing different rattan styles. As time progressed, more and more designers came up with other types until we eventually got to the point of creating synthetic rattan furniture.

Modern Rattan Garden Furniture 

If you have a rattan garden set today, then it’s clear to see that these tables and chairs still maintain their popularity even after many years. Rattan doesn’t seem to go out of fashion and it fits into any modern home. As time progresses, we’re sure to find more eco-friendly yet quality rattan selections available.

For example, these days, the likes of rattan cube sets can be made of synthetic PE to bring you that timeless look but with a modern feel.

Whether you opt for an artificial rattan furniture set or something more traditional, there’s no doubt that beautiful rattan furniture is here to stay. Today, you can get a classic feel with old-fashioned style and craft.

These days, furniture made of rattan fits in with families’ lifestyles while offering many benefits. Whether you enjoy dining outdoors or in, you can find a wide selection of rattan garden furniture available.

Why Choose Rattan Today?

One of the main uses, as you have seen, of rattan is for making baskets or furniture. Still, it’s a versatile fabric that you can weave, stain, or paint. It’s even been incorporated into the substance they use as scents for diffusers, found use in polo mallets, and even in home construction.

There’s a reason why the material has become so popular over the centuries. Rattan has many benefits when it comes to garden furniture, including:

  • Rattan is very supportive as it is naturally flexible, making it ideal for weaving. The furniture works for you as it has a softer yield than sitting on hard plastic, rigid materials, or metal.
  • The material is lightweight, and you can move your patio sets around comfortably. You can also move them from outside to inside to use in other spaces.
  • The fabric offers versatility as you find these garden sets woven with different styles and shapes.

Final Thoughts 

The history of rattan garden furniture is a long and interesting one. From the vines of Asia and Africa, it was the Egyptians who first saw the large-scale benefits of using rattan. But once the Romans came along, they spread their knowledge around their empire and into Britain.

Our use of rattan furniture boomed in the Victorian era and led to the appreciation of rattan furniture that we have today. Thousands of years of mastery and development led to the beautiful and comfortable garden furniture we love.