Wicker is woven furniture, at least that is what defined wicker furniture, something that woven. The question has come up as to why outdoor wicker furniture is being referred in many publications and ads as rattan furniture when it is not rattan furniture at all, at least as we have know it. In fact, the furniture being referenced is resin wicker furniture, not natural rattan furniture and it is woven and rattan is neither. Taking a look at a little history behind wicker and rattan will explain why the trend is here and probably won’t go away, at least not in the short term.
The History of Rattan and Wicker
Many years ago rattan vines were converted into rattan pole furniture. The vines were heated, banded and formed into strong elegant furniture. The rattan was inexpensive and manufacturers found ways to commercialize it around the world. Natural wicker cane was derived from the rattan vine and used to weave strong ornate fabric covers over the rattan pole frames. Thus the invention of wicker-rattan furniture.
During the 20th century, wicker became commercially famous and very desirable as both indoor and outdoor furniture. As time progressed people demanded better outdoor furniture that would not rust, need less maintenance and not deteriorate. New synthetic materials were invented that kept their color and did not crack or deteriorate. Aluminum took the place of the natural rattan poles and synthetic resin took the place of the natural wicker cane. Overnight, resin wicker furniture took its place on the floors of casual wicker dealers everywhere leading its way to the 21st century.
For the last two decades, resin wicker has predominantly been manufactured in China primarily because of the cost of labor and the availability of crafting skills. Due to the commercialization and trends in China and other nearby countries, the term rattan furniture began to be used interchangeably with the term wicker furniture for what in fact is truly wicker furniture not natural rattan furniture. This is a result of rattan being the original material product used to make wicker furniture. The reference and use of the word rattan furniture is now being used in commercial ads and websites around the world.
As a result, many of the products being offered today that we would normally call wicker furniture are being referenced to by the manufacturers as rattan furniture. Its not a trick an no gimmick, its just that we are getting caught up in a translation of a term originating from across the sea and we have to work through it.
Not everyone, including this author, is inclined to improperly place reference to outdoor wicker furniture by calling it rattan furniture. This article is simply a means to help those that are not aware to become aware of the unfortunate twisting of the term Rattan Furniture to mean something that it isn’t.