New possibilities for traditional crafts
With many Vietnamese people moving to cities, traditional craftsmanship runs the risk of being forgotten. IKEA helps create jobs and preserve valuable traditions by working with rattan. A good example is GRÖNADAL rocking chair.
The Khanh Hoa province in central Vietnam is considered to be one of the country's most scenic areas. Inland, there are tall green mountains. Along the coast, there are tropical islands. But the village areas and countryside do not offer many secure jobs. That's why people often move to the province's capital, Nha Trang, to find work.
One place offering job opportunities is the local rattan factory where IKEA makes many different products. Designer Lisa Hilland visited the factory just before the production of GRÖNADAL rocking chair kicked off. The chair has a steel frame and rockers made of ash wood. To create the seat and back, rattan is woven directly onto the steel frame in a classic octagonal pattern.
When it comes to this particular pattern, weaving by hand can never be replaced by machines.
"For someone like me who loves traditional crafts, it was fantastic to be there and see the skilled weavers working," Lisa says. "We could test and fine tune the weaving together, directly on the factory floor, in order to create the best result possible."
Rattan is a type of palm that winds along a host tree. Ready for harvest after two to four years, it can grow to be several hundred metres long. After it's harvested, root shoots create new growth, making it a plentiful and renewable material. Rattan's outermost layer is used for GRÖNADAL because of its strength and flexibility.
Jan Ahlsén has been working in Vietnam with IKEA rattan production for many years and has seen production change over time.
"Many villages have been specialised in a certain weaving technique that's inherited and traditionally produced on a small scale since it's done at home," he explains. "For families who have their own rice fields, weaving is an important additional income."
Today, it can be difficult to survive and make ends meet by only growing rice and weaving rattan occasionally. That's why young people often move to cities. A job at a factory with large-scale rattan production can provide a more stable income and a more secure future while it enables the traditional craft to live on.
Thanks to the personal touches of the skilled weavers in Nha Trang, each GRÖNADAL rocking chair is unique. A natural material, rattan finely changes colour over time, giving the chair a beautiful patina. GRÖNADAL combines traditional Vietnamese craftsmanship with modern Scandinavian style. Lisa Hilland thinks this type of unexpected combination can help increase the demand for similar crafts.
"By creating something new, we can take rattan weaving further and make it interesting for the future."