Bamboo Rules in the Chicest Modern Homes
The material known as bamboo takes its moniker from the fast-growing plant. It’s believed that the word “bamboo” was derived from the southwest Indian term banwu and reinterpreted by Dutch exporters to Indonesia.
Belonging to the subfamily Bambusoideae of the grass family Poaceae, it’s easy to mistake it for a tree due to its tough surface. Bamboo, a natural composite material, has a high strength-to-weight ratio, making it comparable to hardwood timber. Bountiful in Asia—especially in the South, Southeast, and East regions—it’s used as a construction material, raw product, and highly nutritious food item (via bamboo shoots).
Chinese culture is considered the first to have used bamboo for household items such as chairs, stools, and musical instruments like the flute. Because its strength made it popular for weight-bearing objects and structures, even a small footbridge can be made from bamboo. Plus, it’s inexpensive, widely available, light, and easy to pack. Because of this, the ease of exporting bamboo furniture and accessories contributed to its popularity in the West.
Adding to its appeal is its ability to remain unaffected by water, especially when treated with a finish to resist cracking. It’s commonly used to make seating, tables, bed and picture frames though it doesn’t lend itself to large dressers or cabinets. It was these practical considerations that helped it thrive in design.