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Is Rattan the Future of Furniture?

Aug 17, 2007
Many people are moving in a direction that says "natural." Many people are interested in "getting back to nature" by adding themes to their homes that make it seem more natural. For example, the use of rattan furniture offers a more natural way to furnish the home. Made from slender, flexible, reeds, the whole look is one that is straight from the outdoors. It conveys a sense of nature and an outdoorsy feel that puts in mind of tropical locales. Indeed, rattan furniture evokes images of not just any outdoor location, but of an island outdoor location. Rattan furniture practically hollers "beach chic."

It seems that rattan furniture is making a comeback. It may surprise many people to discover that such furniture was used back in the 50s and 60s. Some piece of rattan furniture, whether it was a chair, a lamp, a table, or a sofa, had to be rattan. The shapes were notoriously curvy, further evoking images of undulating waves of water and the beach. And this furniture was a fixture in almost every suburban home, even if there were only one or two pieces of the furniture.

Today, rattan furniture is back. The die-hard fans do not confine themselves to a few pieces for the patio. Rather, they try to make their entire homes into "natural" sanctuaries. They combine their rattan furniture with bamboo flooring and blinds. They surround themselves with plants and ferns that look as though they belong in the tropics. Miniature palm trees, papyrus plants, and even some citrus trees adorn the home, making sure that some rattan chairs have leafy enclosures to provide the cozy illusion of sitting outside, when in reality one is indoors. Most people, however, are satisfied with a piece or two. Integrating rattan furniture with other designs adds a nice, earthy touch to the room, and can soften the space.

Rattan, however, is not a recent discovery. It goes back even before the 50s and 60s. And it was not always used for furniture. Rattan is a supple reeded plant. Its pliability makes it ideal for baskets (which can make very fetching decorations, especially when filled with seasonal flowers, greenery, and ornamental grasses), mats, and furniture. However, the plant also supplies a resin. Flowing through it is a substance that not only nourishes the plant, but was also thought to have medicinal qualities in ancient times. The Greeks and the Arabs prized rattan plants for what was inside, using it to treat a variety of ailments. When hardened, the resin can also serve as a sort of pitch, helping to make baskets a little more water proof. However, when rattan is woven tightly, it can be extremely water resistant.

If you are looking for a change in your home, rattan furniture can provide that change. It goes with almost anything, and it can be used with any color, or with prints. Depending on the atmosphere you want to create, you can use dark, light, or printed fabric for cushions and throw pillows. And rattan can complement both light wood and dark wood. And you can use its curved forms to soften angular furniture and add a softening touch to any room.
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