When Mick Quinn and Heinz Frye founded Raft in 1999, an unwavering commitment to the environment was their personal mission. There was no expectation for a company to be sustainable 22 years ago, but shortcuts were never an option for this small, family-run business. To put it simply, there was a gap in the market that they’d dreamt of as consumers and with their business expertise they made it happen.
“It’s about a whole approach to how you do business. For instance, it makes sense to use reclaimed and sustainably sourced teak for furniture. Not only is it a beautiful, weathered material that is effectively indestructible. It’s also the right thing to do.” - Mick
Raft - A small company on a big mission
Raft’s sustainable story
“We’re just fascinated with how things are made and what they’re made of. We start with materials - as honest and genuine as possible - then come up with a look that complements their character.” - Mick
FLEGT certified teak
Raft is renowned for the sustainable teak that we dry and craft in Indonesia. The fact that teak can grow without fertilisers or heavy irrigation makes it the best wood if you don't want the production of your furniture to have taken a toll on the environment. The natural oils that reside in teak make it an eco-friendly choice due to its being pest-resistant, meaning it doesn't need any insecticides and chemicals. Naturally weather-resistant, teak is the perfect material for both indoor and outdoor furniture. With an abundance of natural oils readily locked into the makeup of the teak, it is naturally durable and won't rot. In this way, the FLEGT certified teak Raft uses is sustainable to source and will last a lifetime in your home. Characterised by a “warts and all” authenticity, no two products are the same. Our skilled team of artisans in Indonesia and London understand the beauty of natural teak and don't over-polish it, paying tribute to the roots of the material.
World-leading green seasoning: the first solar powered kiln in Indonesia
“Yogyakarta has got sunlight from morning to night, they’ve got a massive natural resource. We weren’t happy to do what other firms are doing - burning fossil fuels to dry the timber and then calling it green!” - Mick
The first company in the world to use solar powered kilns in Indonesia, Raft dries its sustainably sourced FLEGT certified teak. Using the sun’s energy to heat the kiln and computer aided efficiency, this technology dries timber with up to 80% less energy input from traditional carbon heat sources such as oil, gas or electricity.
“With innovative data and experience, we hosted site visits and informed a study conducted by professor Gerry Harris from the University of Melbourne into the feasibility of the use of solar powered kilns in Indonesia. This data was then passed on to PHD students in Indonesia working in conjunction with the ACIAR project (The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research).” - Toby Gard, Head of Indonesian Operations at Raft Furniture
Sofas handmade in London
If our timber is sourced and seasoned in Java, why are our sofas handmade in London? Mick and Heinz explain that it’s a combination of common sense, ethics and a dash of creativity.
“We wanted sofas made to the highest standards - like our wooden furniture - distinctive designs rendered in the best materials. Fabrics, frames, springs and so on. The only way we could get the sofas we wanted for our customers was to build our own Raft factory. Manufacturing locally also means we can adapt specifications and update styles very easily and that’s important for our sofa customers” - Heinz
Each sofa is made by hand with care by our skilled team of upholsterers, frame makers, cutters and machinists. For sofa frames, Raft only uses certified hardwood from responsibly-managed European forests, and everything that goes into the sofa interiors - including fibres and foam - is sourced in the UK. Our range includes 80% recycled cotton, 100% natural cotton, linen, unbleached linen and wool, mostly from European weaving sheds. As for our leather, we insist on sourcing from tanneries which meet strict European regulations and animal welfare standards, and which cure, preserve and tan leather properly.
Giving back to the local community
Raft is proud to have its very own factory in North London. Mick Quinn grew up in Neasden with his single mother and brother and celebrates the opportunity to be able to create jobs in North London and put something back into the local community. Equally, Raft’s factory in Indonesia provides jobs to local artisans and has contributed to the local community in more ways than one.
Project Child Indonesia
In 2018, the Raft team in Indonesia took the opportunity to work with Project Child Indonesia and put some timber to good use. They provided 100 handmade desks for the children of the Sekolah Pantai and Sekolah Sungai schools in Yogyakarta, which focus on teaching children about basic health and the environment. You can read more about Project Child on their website.
The Go Green event: Planting trees after the eruption of Mount Merapi
Trees are so important because they are air purifiers and stand as our biggest natural allies against climate crisis. Revegetating and tree planting after the eruption of Mount Merapi in October 2010 was a priority. The Go Green event was 10th April 2011 in the district of Umbul Harjo, Sleman, Yogyakarta. This is approximately 8km to the south of Mount Merapi's peak. There was significant damage to natural surroundings at this distance. On the day the Raft team were among 1,650 people who contributed to the planting of 5,004 new trees of various species.