Here at Raft, we're passionate about great design. We take a look at the fascinating story behind the fabulous Kartini seat...
Lady Kartini of Jepara
With its distinctive curved seat and elegant lines, the Kartini seat really is a thing of beauty. Originating from Java, the Kartini seat is named after Lady Raden Ajeng Kartini (1879–1904), who was the daughter of the Regency Chief of Jepara in Central Java, in the Dutch East Indies – now Indonesia.
Kartini is celebrated as a pioneer of Indonesian nationalism, and a champion of girls’ education and the Indonesian women’s movement. Kartini attended a Dutch school until the age of 12, after which – in line with the traditions of the time – she entered a period of seclusion and was confined to the family home for several years.
However, during this time, Kartini continued to educate herself, reading widely, writing articles and corresponding with feminists and prominent members of the Dutch political elite. Notably, the room in which Kartini wrote her letters contained a teak desk with curved legs and a distinctive teak chair with no armrests...
Promoting local design
At the time, Jepara was a busy port city and a popular site for traders and merchants, and teak wood was a prized commodity. Coming from the tropical hardwood tree Tectona grandis, which is native to Indonesia, teak is a naturally strong, resilient and hardwearing wood, and was used for a wide range of purposes, from construction and boat making to creating beautiful furniture.
As well as her interest in the social issues of the time, Lady Kartini was also involved in supporting the local creative economy and traditional Indonesian arts. At the age of 16, Kartini received lessons in handicrafts and painting, and observed local woodcarvers working on traditional Indonesian pieces.
Kartini is known to have encouraged and promoted specialised local techniques for making furniture, wood carvings and batik, and is even said to have been responsible for helping Jepara craftsmen to create the caged tiger motif.
Furniture from Jepara had a high level of craftsmanship, and Kartini played a key role in the development, promotion and export of local handmade wood furnishings, and helped to make these products competitive in the marketplace.
Before her untimely death at the age of 25, Kartini had established a primary school for native girls, and the Kartini Schools for indigenous girls were later set up in her name. She remains a national heroine in Indonesia today, and every year on her birthday – 21 April – Kartini Day commemorates her life and legacy.
The Kartini seat today
Teak wood is still highly prized today for its elegance and durability. These qualities, combined with the naturally beautiful warm, golden colour of teak, make it an ideal material for crafting striking furniture that you can enjoy for many years to come.
The classic lines and exotic shape of the Kartini seat make it the perfect choice for furniture that’s both striking and functional. Whether it’s used as an extra seat, a hall chair, or somewhere to rest your clothes at the end of the bed, its timeless design will add a sense of style and interest to any space.
Here at Raft, we offer a range of beautiful Kartini seats and benches which are made from 100% reclaimed teak – from the smooth lines and simple elegance of the Kartini seat in natural teak, which lets the natural grain shine through, to the added luxury and stylishness of our upholstered Kartini bench in dark teak.
Based at our own factory in Indonesia, our team of more than 300 highly skilled artisans work to create beautiful, sustainable furniture of the very highest quality.
Raft is one of the world’s largest retailers of 100% recycled teak, which we turn into stunning and enduring furniture for the home and workplace. You can view our range of furniture and accessories here.