Once viewed as cheap furniture for students and bohos, the humble rattan is moving into the realm of chic
Photo by: Vandy Rattana
Locally grown rattan is a sustainable and eco-friendly material that comes in diametres of only a few millimetres to up to seven centimetres. It’s easy to get unique pieces made to order.
THE use of rattan palms in the visual arts has become increasingly popular. Taiwanese artist Wang Wen-Chih created the breathtaking sculpture Beyond The Cloud using rattan, and Cambodian artist Pich Sopheap is well known for incorporating rattan into his conceptual, abstract sculptures.
Rattan, a spiny climbing palm tree, is primarily used in creating furniture, and there are a number of ways to incorporate the look into your home.
Rattan is traditionally associated with handicrafts and bohemians, but with imagination and innovation rattan furniture can be stylish and chic. It's a wood that transforms when stained or painted, and a good way to break out of the lacklustre effects it can have is to purchase semi or high-gloss pieces.
A low-framed bench-style couch in a dark high-gloss is a contemporary alternative to the papasan-style couch. Covered with a thick cushion that is upholstered in a light linen or a heavy cotton, this style of couch is both sophisticated and trendy.
Rattan tables are usually covered with glass, and for dining purposes it is the best option. But a fresh coffee table idea is the basket style table. This style consists of a large rectangular basket with angled sides set on a minimalistic black stand. The basket looks best in a natural wicker weave that contrasts with the simple table frame. Incorporating a variety of wide rattan weaves into a table is another current style that is fresh and striking.
Tightly woven large rattan wicker chairs in a variety of organic shapes add movement to the flow of any spacious room. Combined with throw pillows and cushions, the effect is comforting while still being stylish.Combination rattan and metal bookshelves also add a sense of organic movement to a room.
There are many design styles for rattan furniture available both in interior design magazines and on the internet, and having pieces custom made is a cinch. The showrooms along the south side of Sothearos, between Norodom Boulevard and Street 354, have a relatively mundane selection of furniture, but they make pieces to order.
Here are some practical things to remember when ordering furniture. Take a picture with you and have measurements for them. Specify what colors and weaves you want, and be sure that there are examples in the showroom to refer to. There are a number of different shops to choose from. Look for the shops with pieces that resemble, or at least have elements of what you want to have made. Keep an eye out for the quality of the work, and find a shop owner with whom you can communicate.
A low-framed couch in a dark high-gloss is a contemporary alternative to the papasan-style couch.
Rattan is the most vital forest produce after timber, and Cambodia exports an estimated 100 tonnes annually, according to a report by the Department of Forestry.
Like bamboo, rattan is fast-growing, but it has flexible properties that bamboo does not have, making it ideal for furniture manufacturing. Rattan is also extremely strong and durable.
The rattan harvested in Cambodia comes directly from the forests and plays an important role in the livelihoods of rural communities. It is considered to be a sustainable product that is eco-friendly. More than 500 species of rattan grow in Cambodia.
After the rattan is harvested, it is stripped of its outside bark or skin by hand and then stripped again using a machine, leaving it smooth and rounded. The skin is used to weave various parts of the furniture and to fasten pieces together.
After the rattan has gone through the skinning machine, it is soaked in heated water or put in a steaming oven to make it flexible.