Rattan furniture, with its rich history dating back to ancient civilisations and its enduring popularity across the globe, continues to captivate interior design enthusiasts. From its humble origins in ancient Egypt to its widespread adoption by Victorian-era Britons who drew much inspiration from their trading ventures in the East Indies (current Southeast Asia), rattan has evolved into a versatile and timeless material that effortlessly elevates interior spaces. The Romans, inspired by Egyptian techniques, adopted wicker as their own, spreading its popularity throughout their empire. By the 17th century, rattan furniture had emerged in Northern Europe, evolving into the familiar style we recognize today. Very importantly, let us not forget that Southeast Asia, is one of the largest producers of rattan palms - also commonly known by their Malay name, rotan. Rattan furniture is also therefore deeply rooted in Southeast Asian culture and aesthetics.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Interestingly, it is worth noting that rattan is highly relevant to the concept of Biophilic design, one of the current biggest trends in architecture and interior design. Considered a sustainable material due to its renewable nature and minimal environmental impact, rattan offers both aesthetic appeal and environmental benefits when sourced responsibly. Harvested from fast-growing palms, rattan is a renewable resource that grows rapidly without the need for extensive land clearing. Additionally, rattan requires minimal processing and can last for years, reducing the need for frequent replacements.However, do be sure to choose rattan furniture from makers that practice sustainable manufacturing, as well as suppliers of raw materials that practice sustainable planting.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

For many in Singapore, rattan furniture often evokes a sense of nostalgia. Rattan baby chairs, armchairs, and even rocking chairs instantly recall childhood memories, especially for those born before the 1990s. Unfortunately, the local demand for rattan furniture has declined greatly over the past decade as many have found favor in other styles of furniture. However, rattan remains a versatile and durable choice, even capable of lasting beyond our lifetime.

When left in its natural state, its warm, neutral color complements almost any color palette. The lightweight nature of rattan furniture also makes it easy to move around when redecorating, and it equally withstands indoor and outdoor use. As rattan furniture is mostly handcrafted, it is highly customizable and transcends stylistic boundaries, integrating seamlessly into a plethora of interior styles.

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If you're looking for inspiration on how to incorporate rattan elements into your home elegantly and timelessly, consider looking to France. Think of terrace-seating at bistros along Parisian streets and French-chic apartments that embrace neutral color palettes, accented with the perfect balance of contemporary and vintage elements.

(Photo: Expormim-Cask by Norm Architects-©Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen)

(Photo: Expormim. Frames by Jaime Hayon ©Klunderbie)

Maison Louis Drucker, one of France’s oldest producers of rattan furniture, periodically collaborates with globally acclaimed interior architects and designers such as Jérôme Gauthier, India Madhavi, and Mikiya Kobayashi to create unique rattan chairs that can be manufactured on demand. Spanish furniture maker Expormim also specialises in handcrafted rattan and solid-wood furniture that are renowned for their sleek silhouettes and high quality craftsmanship.

If you’re still apprehensive about incorporating large rattan items into your home, consider starting from decorative items such as lampshades, rugs, and mirrors crafted in rattan. French home and fashion e-commerce retailer La Redoute, offers a great selection of chic additions for the home, such as, lights, headboards, side tables and mirrors.

In Singapore, check out Kathy’s Cove for beautifully crafted and sustainably made locally-designed rattan creations such as planters, modular furniture and children’s items like toy chests, toys and chairs.

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