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Indonesian Rattan Remarkably Finds Its Way From Furniture To Electric Cars

Shanghai-headquartered Nio claims to be the first electric vehicle manufacturer to employ karuun, a high-tech Indonesian rattan material, in a production model.

Indonesian Rattan Remarkably Finds Its Way From Furniture To Electric Cars

Deliveries of Nio’s new ET7 sedan with autonomous driving capabilities and a range of 1,000 kilometres begun in China, pitting it against Tesla and its Model S. The car’s most distinctive feature, though, may be its utilisation of a tropical climbing plant, Indonesian rattan, native to Indonesia’s deep jungles.

Shanghai-headquartered Nio claims to be the first electric vehicle manufacturer to employ karuun, a high-tech rattan material, in a production model. There are 14 pieces within the cabin, which Nio describes as “representing nature’s beauty” on its website. When it comes to texture, each item is distinct and preserves its natural feel.

Rattan is a collective name for the hundreds of kinds of woody climbing palms native to Indonesia’s rainforests and Southeast Asia. Rattan is traditionally used in the construction of furniture and craft items.

Rattan has been repurposed by the German business Out for Space for use in automotive interiors, interior architecture, and even interactive surfaces as an eco-friendly alternative to plastic.

During a trip to a tiny Bali artisan market, product designer Julian Reuter discovered the immense potential of rattan. Back in Germany, he and Out for Space co-founder Peter Kraft experimented with the raw material.

Rattan’s design potential was fully re-imagined by the duo, and they attracted the attention of big carmakers. Indonesia’s old rattan sector might benefit from their new ideas, which could revive the once-important cash crop in the 21st century.

Felix Wurster, the CEO of Out for Space, said his company had “pushed rattan into new dimensions. Injecting UV-resistant pigment into the capillaries of cut rattan rods produces the new derivative material, Karuun. After this, the blocks or panels are milled square and bonded together.

At a trade exhibition, a young German designer at Nio saw Out for Space’s karuun furniture and decided to include it in his own designs, which led to the company’s rapid growth.

Wurster said that founder William Li was “amazed by the narrative of karuun—rattan material from Indonesia with German technology.” Throughout the interior of the ET7, which went on sale in China last week, you’ll see the karuun stripe, which has a distinct linear texture due to the rattan rods.

Wurster says his business has seen an influx of inquiries from automakers since forming the Nio collaboration. According to him, a deal was negotiated with Mercedes-Benz Group to employ karuun in a concept automobile in 2020, while several nondisclosure agreements were signed.

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