Homewares cycle in and out of fashion, and Rattan and Wicker are back in vogue again! We take a DESIGN FOCUS deep-dive into all there is to uncover about this furniture style.

What is the difference between RATTAN and WICKER?

Rattan is a fibre made from a renewable palm, found in parts of SouthEast Asia and Africa. It is used for furniture, as a building material and also in some crafts. Whereas Wicker refers to the style of interlocking weaving of the Rattan (or other) fibres.

Rattan furniture is recommended for indoor use only, as being a natural product it will biodegrade when exposed to the elements. However, when kept indoors it is both a reliable and long-lasting fibre. Testament to this fact is the myriad of Pinterest posts dedicated to the upcycle and revamp of otherwise sturdy, but since dated old family heirloom Rattan furniture items! If treated kindly, they last well.

Wait a minute…I have outdoor Wicker furniture, is it going to biodegrade?!

Australians love our outdoor spaces, and as a result, furniture manufacturers have replaced Rattan with a durable synthetic fibre called Polyethylene (P.E). However, be sure to check the manufacturer’s warranty as some P.E pieces, despite stating they are both water and weather proof, are designed only for undercover areas. This material will perish and become brittle when exposed to the relentless Australian sun. Some manufacturers offer a warranty period but it can be void if exposed to sunlight.

So what should I choose?

Love the style of Rattan but unsure if it will work for your space? Buying a new piece of furniture can be an expensive decision, so take your time and do your homework. Ideally, visit showrooms and sit in the seats – durability is important, but you also want comfort! Check the manufacturer’s warranty and note any exclusions – e.g – sunlight, outdoor weather, moisture.

For P.E products check the frame – is it made of aluminium (will oxidise, but won’t rust) or steel (will rust over time). Finally, consider the following:

· EXPOSED OUTDOOR LOCATION: If your furniture will be exposed to the sun for even as little as two hours a day, we don’t recommend Wicker – either Rattan or P.E. The durability becomes compromised and you’ll be up for replacement pieces very quickly.

· UNDERCOVER OUTDOOR LOCATION: If you are looking for outdoor furniture in an undercover area, you can consider P.E Wicker furniture. Easy to hose down for a quick wash, and able to take the occasional drink spillage it is a durable material for outdoor relaxing.

· INDOOR LOCATION: If you have a sweet indoor spot you need to furnish, then get ready to invest in a beautiful piece of Rattan Wicker. But be careful when making that choice, as this piece of furniture will be in your family for many years to come! It may just become a family heirloom!

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