How to Choose a Genuine Malawi Cane

Posted by Leisel Sandler on

It’s hard to miss the iconic Malawi chair. Its design is not only unique but also robust, known for its distinct shape and natural appearance. On top of that, these chairs are incredibly versatile, fitting perfectly in just about any corner of a home.

Due to its popularity, it’s no surprise that numerous imitations and inauthentic iterations of the Malawi chair have popped up over the years. But if you want to enjoy the unparalleled comfort of genuine Malawi Cane, here are some signs to look out for:

  • Country of origin

Malawi Cane chairs are handmade in Malawi. On the other hand, imitation chairs can hail from various other countries, but the most common source is Indonesia.

  • Size and shape

Despite being handmade, Malawi Cane chairs are relatively consistent in size, give or take about 2 cm. In comparison, imitation chairs are significantly larger, with a depth and width of approximately 10 cm, versus genuine Malawi Cane.

One key thing to remember is that Malawi Cane chairs may have slight differences in the details because of how they’re made. However, these can hardly be considered flaws—rather, they add a touch of personality and charm to the seat.

The shape of genuine Malawi Cane chairs is also a big giveaway, characterised by a tighter side bend in the arms and back.

  • Material

Authentic Malawi Cane chairs are handcrafted from hardwood, bamboo cane, and water reeds. These materials are local to Malawi, giving the chair its unique colour and finish.

Meanwhile, imitation chairs are typically made with rattan, resulting in a yellowish finish that can sometimes look synthetic.

  • Weave

One of the most distinctive characteristics of the Malawi chair is its weave pattern. An authentic weave features consistent, plaited, and cross-weaved sections with clean and tucked ends.

Imitation chairs may have the same look; however, the overall design of the weaves can feel too perfect and simplified.


Searching for genuine Malawi chairs to brighten up your home? Purchase your furniture from a trusted African home décor supplier offering original pieces from all over the continent.

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