Natural rattan is a type of climbing plant that belongs to the palm family. Its use in furniture dates back to ancient times, particularly in Southeast Asia where it is native. The word “rattan” comes from the Malay word “rotan,” which means “to whip,” reflecting its traditional use as a material for making canes and baskets.
The use of rattan in furniture making became more widespread in the 19th century, when European colonizers discovered it in Southeast Asia and began to import it to Europe. Rattan furniture quickly became popular due to its durability, light weight, and natural beauty.
During the 20th century, rattan furniture experienced a surge in popularity in the United States, particularly in the post-war period when people were seeking affordable and stylish furniture. However, with the advent of new materials and manufacturing techniques, the popularity of natural rattan declined in the latter part of the century.
Today, rattan furniture is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, particularly as people seek out more sustainable and natural materials. Many contemporary furniture designers are incorporating rattan into their designs, both in its natural form and in new forms such as synthetic rattan made from recycled plastic.