What Is Wicker And Why Is Such A Great Furniture Design Option?

what is wicker

What is wicker? Wicker is not a material but a method used for weaving natural or synthetic materials into intricate patterns.

This weaving process is common for making baskets, but for centuries it has also been used for producing furniture. When you look at the history of wicker, you’ll be astonished to realize just how long it has been used in furniture production.

And, these days, it’s becoming increasingly popular as it’s a highly desirable option for indoor as well as outdoor furniture.

So let’s look at why it is such a great furniture design option.

History Of Wicker Furniture

Although wicker weaves have been around for over 8,000 years, wicker furniture only dates back as far as 3,000 B.C. when it was introduced into ancient Egypt.

It was made by using indigenous pliable plant materials like reed and swamp grasses found on the shore of the Nile delta. The Egyptians molded the wet reeds into the required position, and these held their shape when dried. Egyptian woven furniture had a great impact on civilization at that time.

After conquering Egypt, the Romans became inspired by the ancient Egyptian woven furniture and used bamboo and reed to make wicker furniture in Roman style.

And as Rome had great influence over the European continent, this weaving process gained popularity throughout.

Wicker was actually introduced to America by the early settlers in the 16th century and was used for producing both furniture and furnishings. But it became more prominent in the 19th century after Cyrus Wakefield realized that rattan was ideal for creating wicker.

It then became highly fashionable both in Victorian Britain and in America.

After slightly losing popularity at the end of the 19th century, the arts and craft movement shaped the destiny of wicker furniture in the 20th century. And it’s continued to gain popularity into the 21st century.

How Is Wicker Furniture Made?

Let’s now take a look at the weaving process necessary during the production of wicker furniture.

1. Preparing The Natural Material

Once the rattan has been harvested, it may lose some of its freshness if it’s stored for too long. When this happens, it needs to be moistened. 

So, after the poles are selected and graded, they are cut to a predetermined size and then steam-bent for about 20 minutes to ensure that the rattan poles are flexible enough to bend easily.

2. Weaving The Threads

The weaving process then involves curving and shaping the rattan stalks to make wicker weaves with intricate criss-cross patterns. 

The most popular designs for woven rattan are simple weave, double weave, or an elaborate triple twist. As these are hand-crafted by highly talented professionals, you can be sure that each wicker weave is unique.

3. Final Touches

Once the weave is completed, the wicker can be varnished with a sealant. This seals the surface to protect the wicker from unraveling or becoming damaged.

It also solidifies the surface of the weave so the rattan furniture can be painted in a color of your choice. 

Advantages Of Wicker Furniture

There are four advantages worth considering before purchasing wicker furniture for your home.

1. Amazing Natural Material

You’ll find that the slight natural imperfections that are always visible on the wood grain of the rattan and wicker poles add character to wicker furniture.

Then due to the flexibility of these rattan poles, our talented craftspeople are able to bend and shape them into elaborate criss-cross woven designs, which give the furniture an attractive unique look.

2. Eco-friendly And Sustainable

Unlike hardwood such as oak and maple, natural rattan materials are eco-friendly and sustainable. 

An entire tree has to be cut down to produce hardwood furniture, and it takes up to thirty years to replace it.

But, it only takes a few years for organic materials like rattan to grow back again after being harvested, as the vines aren’t destroyed in the process.

3. Hard Wearing And Durable

Furniture produced with organic materials such as rattan are just as sturdy and durable as any furniture made from solid wood.

And there’s the added advantage that, as it’s a water-resistant material, it won’t rot if cared for properly, so you’ll be able to leave your wicker furniture outdoors.

Natural Wicker Materials

Let’s take a look at the most popular materials used for producing wicker furniture.

1. Rattan

The rattan plant is a fibrous climbing vine that is found in south-east Asia. As it’s not killed off during harvesting, the vines replenish so they can be continually harvested for many years.

This environmentally friendly, sustainable material is the perfect choice when it comes to rattan and wicker furniture as it doesn’t cause deforestation and will withstand exposure to all kinds of weather.

2. Seagrass

Seagrass reed has a tough, shiny, smooth exterior and is generally found in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand. As it’s flexible, it can be formed into a tight weave which makes it extremely durable. And it’s also resistant to stains.

But, unlike rattan, it isn’t suitable for furniture frame structure production. And the weave won’t last as long, either.

3. Bamboo

Bamboo is quite similar to rattan, but it’s not as flexible as it has a hollow center. It’s not a solid material, and it splits easily when not treated carefully.

But it does have the advantage of being an eco-friendly material as it grows fast with no need for pesticides.

4. Water Hyacinth

Hyacinth also resembles rattan and is used in its natural state. It’s not as brittle, which makes it easy to bend and shape for weaving into specific designs.

Its stems and dried leaves are used for producing sturdy wicker furniture that is suitable for indoor usage. But it’s not as durable as rattan when it comes to outdoor usage.

Synthetic Wicker Materials

Synthetic materials may be a good choice for making wicker baskets but are not the best choice for wicker furniture production as they’re not eco-friendly, and neither will the furniture be as durable as that made from natural materials.

1. Resin

Resin is a synthetic wicker that is man-made from high-density polyethylene to resemble natural wicker.

Wicker furniture made from synthetic resins or synthetic rattan and wicker is considered to be extremely durable but has the disadvantage of not being biodegradable. It can also start to fade when you expose it a lot to direct sunshine.

2. Plastic

Plastic is considered to be more durable than resin, and it also contains fewer impurities. But disposing of your synthetic wicker furniture will cause a problem to the environment. When burned, plastic releases harmful gasses that are dangerous for humans and wildlife.

Where Can You Use Wicker Furniture?

Although wicker has always been associated with outdoor furniture, it’s now becoming increasingly more popular for indoor furniture as well.

Indoor Use

Our wicker rattan chairs and sofas are extremely attractive and will add character to any living room. And to add a warm and welcoming look to your bedroom, we can also offer you an amazing choice of rattan bedroom sets.

But if you’re looking for something completely versatile, you should consider our dining table and chairs.

Being as it is lightweight, you’ll have no problem moving any wicker furniture to your patio or garden when you decide to entertain guests or just want to relax outside.

Outdoor Use

Rattan is the ideal choice for outdoor furniture as it is comfortable and durable. And, unlike hardwood, with the right care, it won’t rot. 

As it’s a natural organic material, it weathers well, but for protection, you should store it indoors during the winter months.

In addition to being waterproof, it has the advantage of being resistant to UV rays, so there is no worry of it fading when left outdoors in the hot summer months.

Finding The Right Wicker Manufacturer

We have a vast collection of high-quality rattan and wicker furniture for you to choose from. 

As these products are predominantly handmade in America, you can expect the price to be higher than any cheap imported products. But when it comes down to durability and superior quality, the initial investment will be worthwhile.

The wicker furniture manufacturer that we have partnered with, Braxton Culler, is the most experienced manufacturer in America. 

This family-owned and run business is based in North Carolina and has over 40 years of experience hiring highly talented craftspeople to create hand-woven wicker products from top-quality materials.

Choosing Wicker Furniture For Your Home

We can offer you a wide selection of stylish rattan and wicker furniture that is suitable for both indoor and outdoor usage.

When you browse through our collection, you’ll see a variety of both traditional and modern style furniture. You’ll even be able to choose the finishing touches to create a unique piece of furniture to match your existing home decor.

If you need further information or help in making a decision, a member of our customer support team will be happy to help you.

You’ll find contact details on the individual product pages.

We look forward to supporting you in making a decision.