Ditch bog standard plastic laundry baskets in favour of some elegantly coiled modern African decor hampers hand-woven by the Wolof women of Senegal and available on The Travelers Collection, a US-based offering a diverse collection of globally inspired personal and home ware accessories and gifts. Simply stylish, the hampers are made from recycled prayer mats that have been woven using njodax grass and plastic strips and come in subtle soothing colour palettes that bring a touch of modern African decor into the interior. Available in different sizes, the hampers have ample room, not only concealing mountains of laundry but lend themselves to tidying away items like toys, doubling up as decorative objects in process, meaning if storage space is an issue simply dot them round the home; just make sure inquisitive guests don’t go round lifting the lids!
Picking up from where I left off on my exploration into the different types of basket making found across the continent; I find myself quite taken by these glass bowls edged with a woven basket band. Created by Swaziland-based, Gone Rural who are redefining African basket design I came across them on the US-based Amaridian Gallery, and they give a fresh updated look to the traditional woven basket. The way the basket weaving techniques have been combined with recycled glass has produced some beautiful, unique looking bowls.
[image credit: Gone Rural – Amaridian Gallery]
A socially responsible business set up by the late Jenny Thorne in 1992, Gone Rural started life as a small local business in Swaziland working with 30 women. Gone Rural has now evolved into an international company providing an income for over 731 women and supplying in excess of one thousand retail outlets in over 32 countries. Gone Rural works to promote understanding and respect of Swazi cultural heritage; hand woven products utilise traditional skills that are combined with high quality design and recycled materials are often used. When new products are created or new techniques implemented, training workshops are held to assist with skill sharing and this helps maintain the high standard of the products being produced.
…a stylish update of a classic that is simple yet ingenious .
[Image source: Elle Decoration – South Africa]
Take a giant, oversized woven basket and tip it on its side, add some sturdy wooden legs and voilà you have a piece of modern basket furniture in the form of a chair, the Jeddah Seat to be precise. I appreciate its not that simple but the resulting effect is an ingenious approach to the humble, yet stylish woven basket giving it a contemporary look in the process. Woven from rush, the Jeddah chair by Italian designer Angelo Figus is a beautiful example of handwoven craftsmanship and attention to detail.
Following on from my previous posting about the Zimbabwean Basket Weavers, I have become increasingly fascinated by the defining characteristics and regional differences in the patterns, forms and traditional uses of African baskets and thought it would be nice to dedicate a separate posting for each of the various country styles I come across.
[Image credit: BBC]
I came across a photo-editorial on BBC about an exhibition of contemporary Zimbabwean basketry called ‘The Basket Case’, currently being held at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Harare. The National Gallery is beautiful space and a place I know well having spent many a time there perusing the latest exhibits and completing assignments. I am glad to see that it is still putting on inspiring exhibits. ‘The Basket Case’ exhibition is all about connecting the past and the present, traditional with contemporary and is based on a project by interior accessories designer, Heath Nash and the traditional basket weavers based in Binga and Northern Zimbabwe who are mainly women. This is a project about preserving skills that are normally handed down from generation and capturing a new audience of buyers and collectors. Basket weaving is an amazing skill found throughout many regions in Africa and I am always amazed by the diversity of intricate patterns formed, meaning no two are ever alike and how skillful hands weave simple strands of grass into strong, sturdy and functional objects that over time have stored food and even water.