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Raffia – enduring appeal

Raffia is obtained from the Raphia Palm tree, found growing in the tropical regions of Africa, the Philippines and in Madagascar.  The Raphia Palm’s main fronds can grow up to 18m in length and are additionally adorned with up to 100 leaflets each.  When carefully farmed, long continuous fibres of hundreds of metres can be removed from the palm.  The fresh green fibres are sun-dried at which point they turn yellow and look more familiar to the raffia that we fing in our everyday lives.

The Raphia strands are sorted into qualities according to their colour, strength and length, and on occasion, patterned and dyed.  Raffia is a sustainable product subject to careful and seasonal harvesting practices to ensure that the fronds have the opportunity to re-grow adequately prior to the following year’s harvest.

Raffia fibre is soft, pliable, strong and easy to dye, making it an excellent material with which to make woven fabrics for upholstery, wall coverings, baskets, hats, mats and rugs.  Due to it’s biodegradable nature it is also regularly used in agriculture to secure plants to stakes.

Whatnot stocks various raffias, the most popular being ‘banana weave’ and the less textured, ‘medium coarse weave’.  We also hold stock of various limited edition, brightly coloured raffias. 

See some inspiration shots of raffia furniture on Pinterest here.

See raffias on our website here.    

Photos courtesy of La Quartier Francais

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