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Rattan furniture and accessories are fashionable right now, with designer shops and lifestyle websites showing Fifties and Sixties-style rattan sunburst mirrors and pod armchairs with black metal legs. These are all part of the rattan renaissance: this tough and versatile member of the palm family is a liana that grows to almost 2,000ft in the steamy forests of Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

Rattan furniture, imported from Britain’s colonies in the Far East in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was hugely popular. Used mainly in conservatories, it also found its way into drawing rooms – for small decorative side chairs and occasional tables to hold the myriad ornaments so beloved of the Edwardians.

When people talk about rattan effect garden furniture, what they mean is synthetic rattan. The materials used in rattan effect garden furniture are generally PE rattan, poly rattan or man-made versions of the natural vine which used to be harvested to make rattan furniture. The synthetic side of the business came about because the natural product cannot withstand rain, UV or high moisture conditions. In short, natural rattan will rot if left outside.

This is where rattan effect garden furniture, and iola, come in! Our rattan effect garden furniture is not traditional rattan, yet it is also not a cheap substitute. Some strains of rattan effect garden furniture are made from very low-quality, ‘plastic-y’ man-made materials which look dreadful and perform badly too.

This is not the case at iola. We use the very best, German-engineered synthetic rattan which has been expertly developed to look just like the real thing but offer incredible durability, weather resistance and flexibility. We’ve kept the gorgeous soul of real rattan but given it a smart, modern twist.

The fibres we use in our rattan effect garden furniture are five times more durable than conventional synthetics and sourced from leading German manufacturers. 90% of rattan effect garden furniture suppliers source their materials from Chinese providers. These Chinese fibres are typically made of PVC which has a normal life span of just 12 months. When you choose iola furniture you are buying beautifully designed furniture which will look chic and last perfectly for years and years – whatever the weather!

The quality of the materials behind our rattan effect garden furniture allows us to create impressive and innovative contemporary designs. Our fibres have increased flexibility, allowing our talented Cebu weavers and leading designers to take rattan to places it has never been before!

Rattan is Not Wicker and Wicker is Not Rattan

First, I want to make clear the distinction between wicker and rattan. A lot of people use the terms interchangeably but they are two very different things. Wicker refers to the type of weave while rattan is an actual a natural material fiber. Rattan is fiber used to make natural wicker sets. You can jump to this page to learn more.

Natural Wicker

Natural wicker is made from plant materials. Natural materials were used long ago during the times of Ancient Egypt to make wicker baskets. Unfortunately for your patio, natural wicker is susceptible to rain, sleet, snow, moisture, and other forms of inclement weather.

A close up of natural wicker.

Natural wicker is perfectly fine for indoor use but it’s not suitable for the outdoors. That is why resin wicker is used to make outdoor wicker furniture that looks and feels like the real thing.

What is Synthetic Resin Wicker

Also known as All-Weather Wicker, synthetic resin wicker is made from resins that are extracted from plant matter. These liquids are capable of hardening permanently. There are several types of resin wickers ranging from cheap plastics to HDPE.  Resin wicker is used to make outdoor sectionals, dining sets, and even daybeds.

Synthetic resin wicker undergoes a polymerization process that creates an epoxy like material. Resin wicker is typically built on aluminum frames. This makes them very lightweight so you might have to find some ways to keep your patio furniture from blowing away.

Wicker vs Resin Wicker

  • Organic wicker will become dry and brittle over time. It will crack and cause the weave to unravel over time.
  • Natural wicker can be subject to damage caused by insects and small pests.
  • Synthetic wicker is much more durable. As the name implies, it is suitable for outdoor conditions. Resin wicker can also be used indoors.
  • Resin wicker is easy to wash. Learn how to clean resin wicker furniture.
  • All of this and resin wicker is still less expensive than natural wicker.

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Steve Smith

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