Rattan Weavers

A lifetime commitment to rattan craftsmanship

Whilst real craftsmanship underpins all that Soane does, nowhere is this more evident than in the production of its rattan furniture.

The Soane rattan story is one of making furniture and lighting, founded on integrity and longevity, whilst reviving an almost extinct British industry.

In 2010, after 8 years working with Angraves, the last rattan workshop in England, Lulu received news that it was going into administration. “Following a myriad of changes in furniture fashion and competition from cheap imports, demand for traditional hand-weaving dwindled. The combination of fear of losing these specialist skills from England forever and a need to fulfil client orders gave me the courage to buy the raw materials and machinery from Angraves’ administrators and rebuild the workshop.”

The team of craftsmen working at Soane’s Leicestershire workshop now numbers 15, with 3 weavers having a combined 130 years’ experience between them! This in-depth knowledge of how the rattan palm will react when being manipulated derives from decades of working with the plant. Rattan weaving is often a family tradition with three generations of one family working together in the Soane workshop.

Production starts with the making of a frame using thick canes that are steam bent into shape using wooden jigs. Thinner rattan strands are soaked in water baths to make them pliable before ‘randing’ (the weaving of strands between rattan stakes) and ‘wrapping’ (binding around the cane frames). The craftsmen work skilfully with the flexible plant material to create three dimensional pieces with the distinct atmosphere and inherent strength of traditionally handwoven rattan designs.

The Soane weavers make a wide variety of rattan designs, from sofas, chairs, tables and desks through to mirrors and lights. The flexibility of rattan allows for Bespoke commissions of almost any kind.

To read more about rattan weaving see our Soane Journal post ‘Crafts in the Spotlight’ and ‘Rattan Details Revealed’.