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Why is vintage teak furniture so popular?

What is Teak Wood?

Teak comes from a tropical hardwood tree called Tectona grandis, native to south and southeast Asia. It is incredibly dense, high in natural oils, and moisture- and insect-resistant. Due to these natural qualities, it has been used for centuries in shipbuilding.

Close-up of teak wood
All photos are of Atomic Antiques' inventory

History of Teak Furniture

Teak also makes beautiful furniture. Danish furniture designers have been using teak since the 1920s, and their furniture’s simplicity, durability, and functionality became trademark characteristics by the mid-1900s, in what we now know as the Mid-Century Modern period. This furniture was constructed of both solid wood and high-quality veneer.  Teak’s functionality and sleek lines, along with its warm glow, are among the characteristics that appeal to modern consumers.

Vintage mid-century modern nine drawer lowboy dresser made of teak wood
All photos are of Atomic Antiques' inventory

Is Teak Wood Rare?

However, teak wood is not abundant. Tectona grandis is a slow-growing tree from a specific geographical region.  Over-harvesting, mismanagement, and political tribulations in Asia eventually lead to its unsustainability.  Nevertheless, the demand for teak did not diminish. The wood for modern teak furniture comes from teak plantations.

Vintage teak wood 4 drawer desk and teak wood chair
All photos are of Atomic Antiques' inventory

Vintage vs. Plantation Teak

Most teak plantations are in South America, where the soil differs in mineral content from its original habitat. Though plantation teak is considered more sustainable, it lacks the very characteristics that made natural teak popular and useful in the first place. Plantation teak is less naturally water-resistant and lacks the same beautiful smooth finish due to its high number of knots and insufficient natural oils.

Teak wood expanding dining room table and dining chairs
All photos are of Atomic Antiques' inventory

Popularity of Vintage Teak Furniture Today

In recent years, Mid-Century Modern design has had a huge resurgence in popularity. Today’s buyers are attracted to the style’s marriage of warm nostalgia with clean lines. Luckily, due to the original popularity of teak and its exceptional durability, there are plenty of vintage furniture pieces available on the market today. And what’s more sustainable than a table, chair, or nightstand that can be used for decades after its creation?


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