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The Baba Tree Basket Company

Bolgatanga in Ghana’s Upper East Region is synonymous with basket weaving, and the distinctive round-bellied Bolga Market basket with its sturdy handles. Building on the region’s basket weaving heritage local business The Baba Tree Basket Company is producing some stunning gravity-defying basket designs, woven from locally sourced natural materials and dyed in vibrant colours.

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AAKS x UNHCR Weaving For Change

Luxury artisanal accessory brand AAKS has launched a stunning home decor collection inspired by the theme Weaving for Change. The collection comprises five distinctive handcrafted lamps and light pendants, each created in partnership with women artisans from the Tuareg community in Northern Mali who are living as refugees in Burkina Faso. In working with this Tuareg community AAKS are helping to celebrate and preserve the community’s cultural identity and their time-honoured basket weaving traditions, a philosophy that has defined AAKS’s work with local communities in Ghana.

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SafariFusion Modern African Interior Decor Accessories

Loving Safari Fusion’s beautifully styled 2015-16 Lookbook of modern African interior decor accessories and African baskets collection entitled, Woven & Stitched. The colourful, unique and functional collection presents the best in contemporary basketry made in Africa. Woven & Stitched is inspired by African basket weavers, and has brought together a range of grass and fibre baskets that showcase the way classical techniques and ancient traditions have been rejuvenated through the use of modern colour palettes and forms.

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Gone Rural Hand Painted African Baskets At Maud Interiors

Just spotted on Maud Interiors, via Pinterest these one-of-a-kind handwoven African baskets from Gone Rural sporting colourful hand painted splashes of paint in a stylistic nod to abstract expressionism. I have previously featured the work of Swazi-based social enterprise, Gone Rural on the site, and the organisation continues to shake up the industry with their innovative approach to contemporary African basketry. [Main image credit: Gone Rural Hand Painted Baskets – Maud Interiors]

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Basket Case II Showcasing Contemporary Zimbabwe Baskets

In 2010 I featured Basket Case, a pioneering exhibition of contemporary Zimbabwe baskets from some of the southern African country’s leading basket-weaving organisations. The exhibition was the initiative of The New Basket Workshop, a South African based organisation that works with rural basketry groups in a number of African countries including Zimbabwe, Ghana, Ethiopia and South Africa to assist with areas such as product development and accessing international markets. Building on Basket Case, 2014 saw the presentation of Basket Case II, a showcase of cutting-edge basketry produced by a select group of local and international artists and designers commissioned to work […]

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SCP Blocks and Peaks Basket Collection Made In Africa

These gorgeously colourful and practical basket made in Africa are the result of a cross-cultural collaboration between the Malawian-based creative social enterprise, People of the Sun and British designer Donna Wilson. The collection entitled ‘Blocks and Peaks’ was created exclusively for SCP, a leading UK manufacturer and retailer of modern innovate furniture. [Main image credit:Blocks and Peaks Basket Collection – Donna Wilson and People of the Sun for SCP]

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Lupane Women’s Centre Zimbabwe Modern African Baskets

Looking like they have been swirled with delicate watercolours, this gorgeous range of traditionally handcrafted modern African baskets is the result of a partnership between the Lupane Women’s Centre in Zimbabwe and the Kingston University Design School in the UK, bringing a contemporary edge to traditional African design. The initiative entitled, Kingston Project Africa was created to facilitate the exchange and support of knowledge between both regions, and led by Professor Catherine McDermott utilises the expertise of academics, industry practitioners and curators across various projects and collaborations. [Main image credit: Baskets – Lupane Women’s Centre in Partnership with Kingston Project Africa]

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Mbare Points Du Jour African Basket Reader Offer

A few months ago I featured a beautifully woven palm dish handcrafted by the Tavie Co-operative in Niger, click here to read. Currently retailing on Mbare, the full African basket dish range incorporates unique details such as silver Touareg discs placed in the centre; as seen in the Coucher De Soleil and Rayon De Soleil styles; whilst other designs feature indigo thread in intense hues, creating a striking contrast against the natural colour of the leaves. One of the dishes that incorporates the indigo thread is the stylish Points Du Jour, whose design sees the thread scattered around at seemingly random points. The placement of the […]

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Gayle Garner Roski Zulu Basket African Inspired Art Series

American artist Gayle Garner Roski creates vibrant watercolours based on subjects drawn from her many travels and surroundings. Injected with an inherent sense of realism Gayle’s work is incredibly life-like, capturing minute details in her often emotive work. In her Zulu Basket African inspired art series, Gayle captures the beauty and skill of basket weaving, and the intricate details of the weave and patterns. The vivid watercolours give the baskets a luminous quality. I keep imagining the paintings rendered in glass and set into a door, window or glass wall. Gayle shows her work at Tirage, a Fine Art Gallery in Pasadena, California.

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Contemporary African Design Tavie Co-operative Tuareg Baskets

The beauty of this woven dish radiates from its core, which features a beautifully engraved silver disc at the centre, which is said to symbolise the sun and is characteristic of Tuareg pattens. Framed with an indigo halo, the addition of the disc adds a contemporary African design edge, elevating the humble woven basket to a stunning decorative object, that would work well hung on the wall or placed on a plate stand.

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African Baskets Woven Bolgatanga Baskets From Ghana

Last week the EU announced the potential banning of plastic bags as it outlined proposals to reduce the number of plastic bags used in Europe each year, after a public consultation revealed that more than four billion were thrown away each year. After massive campaign a few years ago lately I have noticed fewer people using the jute and other alternative shopping bags whilst doing their shopping, myself included and so was not surprised to find out that after four years of decline the use of carrier bags in the UK actually rose by 5% in 2010.

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Modern African Decor Senegalese Prayer Hampers

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 […]

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Gone Rural Swaziland Redefining African Basket Design

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 […]

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Innovative Modern Basket Furniture

[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.

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Basket Case a showcase of Contemporary Zimbabwean Basketry

 [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 […]

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  • Eight years ago I started a blog as a place to document the interesting things I was discovering with regards to the design and creativity emerging from Africa. From the moment I created my first blog post little did I know where the journey would take me. Fast-forward to present day I have not only been privileged to witness the development of an industry, but to also have an active role in creating awareness about it.

On this journey, I have seen Africa’s design industry grow from a handful of names from a handful countries to a continent wide-reach. Some names that were just starting out have become internationally respected leaders in their field, whilst behind them, a new generation of names are coming up and claiming their place in the industry.

To say that it is an exciting time for African design and creativity would be a gross understatement! We are in a time of rapid advancement and unbridled creative expression, that is setting the foundations and standards for future generations to build on. And like many other emerging industries in Africa, creativity is opening up opportunities to those who are willing to seize them. And seizing them designers are!

And as Atelier Fifty Five begins a new chapter it is an opportunity for me to renew my commitment to supporting the development of the African design industry and helping those I work with and write about, and work with to fulfill their potential for creating world-class brands. 
I invite you to visit our website to discover more. [Link in bio]

Tapiwa, Founder Atelier Fifty Five
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  • Colourful basketry, soulful sculpture and an elegant candle make a nice placeholder we think, as we prepare to usher in a new chapter of the Atelier Fifty Five journey. [📷 credit: @atelierfiftyfive]
  • Gifted hands. A glimpse behind the scenes of Kaross a South African based embroidery initiative, whose artisans transform furnishings into works of art. [📷 credit: Kaross]
  • Tools of the trade, a hand carved printing block stamp by textile designer @juliekouamo whose evocative designs tell the stories of cultures past and present. Julie's textiles feature richly layered patterns, textures and printed pictures that come together to create vibrant collages. [📷 credit: @tapiwamatsinde]
  • Fishermen's boats, a familiar sight along the Senegalese coast line. [📷 credit: @tapiwamatsinde]

Instagram @ atelierfiftyfive