In the Know | Rattan, Wicker, Cane Whats the difference?

- Jul 21, 2020

You could be forgiven for thinking wicker, cane and rattan are one and the same. The terms are often interchanged, however, they can be broken down into separate categories as explained below:

01: Rattan

Rattan is a product of the palm plant; it is a type of vine that climbs up the trunks and branches of trees in the jungles of South East Asia. A close relation to bamboo, rattan is the second-fastest-growing material (after willow) for furniture production, regenerating within 5 to 7 years. It is very hardy and all parts of the plant can be used, making it a more sustainable material than certain types of wood.

It is often the variation that is treated and painted as it is more porous than cane, so you will often find brightly coloured rattan, but plain cane.

02: Cane

Cane is also a material that comes from the rattan palm plant. When the palm plant is processed it is split into two parts; the core reed (rattan) and the thin interior (cane). Because of this, you can normally be assured that thin woven elements such as the back of a chair, are made from cane, and furniture with larger, reed-like features are normally rattan.

Cane is often left natural as it is less porous and stronger than its brother so needs less treatment. It is flexible so can be used to create beautiful designs, and easy to maintain so will last a long time.

Bonus points for both rattan and cane:

  • Pesticides and fertilisers are not necessary for cultivating the plant.
  • They are Co2 neutral because of their rapid growth.
  • They are recyclable.
  • As they grow best on and under trees, they indirectly protect trees and forests!

03: Wicker

Where rattan and cane are materials, wicker refers to the process of weaving natural materials and is the collective term for woven furniture; you may see cane or rattan furniture referred to as "wicker furniture", "wicker cane", or "wicker rattan". Wicker does not only refer to rattan and cane, it can also involve willow, bamboo, reed, and more recently has been used as a process for synthetic materials too.

So, although they have their similarities and familial origins, they do have their own subtle differences.