Or why cane furniture remains an excellent option
Cane furniture, like other wooden varieties, grow with you and become a part of your family's treasured possessions. Lasting anywhere between 30 to 40 years, its long life isn’t surprising given its flexible nature. But what can you do to take better care of your cane furniture?
Buying good quality cane is of utmost importance, says S. Gunasundari, a freelance cane weaver, who has been in the business since 1976. “If the work is good, the chair will last a decade or two with no maintenance,” she says. “But if you have children around the house who tend to play with the furniture, then there be some damage. Re-caning it every few years is good.” She also suggests a coating of natural varnish every year or so.
Tarun Lewis of Teak Heirlooms adds that cane is also prone to fungus. “A coating of furniture wax before the rains can solve this problem. Apart from this, using a brush for the nooks or a vacuum cleaner to take off the dust is effective too. While varnishing does protect the chair against dust and sun (cane tends to fade from over exposure), you can’t really prevent dust from settling in, in a city like Chennai.”
Cane is also considered good for health. “You can only sit for a couple of hours in plastic chairs but cane is comfortable to sit on for any number of hours. It’s also healthier for people with diabetes because it cools down the body. In the olden days, families always used cane cradles and this was handed down from generation to generation.,” says Gunasundari. J. Baskar, who runs 50-year-old Jayaraman Cane Furniture in Mylapore agrees. “Cane can be made or bent to suit your posture and the elderly find it comfortable. You can’t get this kind of comfort with other wood, steel or foam furniture.” Baskar also stresses on its longevity. “You’ll just have to paint or polish it every three or four years and it will last you a long time. We are only into cane furniture and service and I don’t get that many repairs. It is very sturdy and if you use it wisely, there’s nothing like it.” Gunasundari recommends Andaman Cane while Tarun stands by Malacca Cane. “Andaman Cane is the best that I’ve seen in the Indian variety, followed by Assam Cane,” she says, while Tarun adds, “Malacca cane is internationally regarded as the best. You usually get it in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.”
“It is very good for your health and has no side-effects,” says Gunasundari, “I’ve had customers who like to sit on one particular cane chair and are really sad when it is broken. There is a lot of importance attached to it.” Tarun points out to its advantages. “Woven cane has plenty of ventilation and is best suited for Chennai’s climate. The best kind of furniture is one that is woven from an entire roll of cane.”