We all seem to be developing more of a social conscience, or at least that is the way it seems. Products are popping up everywhere claiming to be more environmentally friendly, using renewable resources, and providing various new business opportunities.
As the first world gets richer though, it is encouraging to see that some of the wealth and opportunities are trickling down, utilising resources that can be found in some of the poorest regions of the world.
Did you know many products that we use in a commercial florist are sourced internationally these days? In some ways this is sad as money is going off shore, however it is largely due to the cost of wages in Australia. The truth is, if we were to grow them here, the price would probably end up so high, no one would buy them. Buying from overseas is also influenced by the difference in climate; what they are able to grow, that perhaps we can’t. Most of our orchids, anthuriums and tropical foliage (like cordyline or palm leaves) comes from South Eastern Asian countries and Mauritius.
We use several types of vines and canes in floristry, but some of these natural materials also make fantastic decor, and due to the nature in which they grow, they make eco-friendly choices.
Rattan is closely related to the palm plants, and considered a liana (or vine) rather than a true wood. As it is a climber, it’s texture is flexible and malleable, whilst still incredibly strong, making it an ideal material to weave furniture from. It is a rapid grower, with the ability to grow up to 30 metres tall however does not have the strength to grow alone, instead using the structure of other neighbouring plants to hold onto in order to reach higher. Rattan is generally confined to South East Asia, with 70% of the world’s rattan throughout Indonesia. The rest is sprinkled throughout the Phillipines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Bangladesh. Given that rattan is grown throughout some of the poorest regions of the world, it is able to provide a sustainable income to those who need it most.
Rattan grows in between other trees in forests, and as a result, those forests have since been protected from logging to allow the rattan to be grown. It also grows in floodplains which were otherwise unused, which in turn encourages animals to create habitats, and increase animal populations.
Rattan is solid, and therefore incredibly strong, in fact it is almost impossible to break. Bamboo on the other hand, is hollow, but it is still incredibly strong. Ever been to a third world country and witnessed the construction of a new building? Bamboo scaffolding is still used today.
Bamboo is hard and straight making it harder to manipulate. Generally pieces are placed parallel to each other, and the design of the furniture usually tend to be more simplistic.
Bamboo is another rapidly growing material that is being utilised in furniture design and other decorator items. Both rattan and bamboo are fast growing tropical plants, making them an ideal income source for those populating the developing countries in which they grow. Often bamboo and rattan are used together in furniture; making the framework from bamboo and utilising the flexible rattan pieces around the joins of the hard straight bamboo pieces.
Many of the furniture styles that were favoured in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s are making a comeback. This is largely because the furniture is durable, eco-friendly, light weight and attractive.Despite being able to create plastic furniture, the trend to make more eco-friendly choices is catching as we strive to reduce the amount of landfill and live more sustainably.