Woven Travels / African Baskets

At Home With... Cara Sutherland

For our first At Home With feature we were delighted to chat with the very lovely Cara Sutherland, whose Instagram account @CaraSuthers and blog Within These Walls we have swooned and cackled over for several years now. She's got a dreamy Cotswold home, killer dress sense and seriously great hair, but it's her hilarious captions, honest portrayals of life's ups and downs, and abject refusal to take herself too seriously that captured our hearts and our minds. 
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A Wanderlust Wedding Shoot

We were delighted to be asked to supply a selection of our handwoven planters for a wanderlust-themed wedding shoot for luxe weddings and lifestyle blog B.Loved earlier this year.

Embroidered Baskets

Mr and Mrs Embroidered Baskets £37

Mini Sisal Baskets £4.50

Image from https://blovedblog.com

 

With both Camilla and Holly set to be wed in 2018 (Camilla has just come off her honeymoon as we write this – welcome back Cam!) it was an inspiring and very exciting collaboration for everyone involved.

 

JIONI

Jioni Colour Block Basket M £35

Image from https://blovedblog.com

The team at B.Loved work together with stylist Events by Keenda for the shoot, and together they created a breath-taking evocation of a spring wedding using on-trend new neutral shades to set the tone. Soft pinks and pale, succulent greens dominated the palette, accented by deeper greens, corals and golds.

 

JIONI

Image from https://blovedblog.com 

Blending luxe and rustic finishes here (glass and metallics with sisal and palm) works to create a dreamy, escapist and deeply romantic taster of an adventure-inspired wedding day. 

 

Image from https://blovedblog.com

Our JIONI pink colour block basket formed the centrepiece of the top table, holding the most spectacular, tumbling floral arrangement of coral coloured ranunculus, blush peonies, sweet peas and little succulents peeking through the foliage. This worked so well that Camilla borrowed the idea for her own colourful wedding last month, using yellow colour block baskets for her own table centrepieces.

 

Image from https://blovedblog.com

A pair of our Mr and Mrs embroidered baskets - and some mini sisal baskets - made perfect planters for little succulents on the cake table. One of our NYEUPE nomadic beaded baskets was also included in the shoot, its bands of tiny white beads bringing just the right amount of 'delicacy' to the rather tasty looking doughnut board.

 

NYEUPE

NYEUPE Nomadid Beaded Basket XS £20

Image from https://blovedblog.com

 

All that’s left to see is whether Holly borrows any ideas from the shoot for her wedding in August. Watch this space!

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Trend Alert: Desert Dusk

A new interiors colour palette is melting its way into our awareness as spring ebbs into summer, and it’s a revisiting of gentle, earthen tones like terracotta and taupe, gold, peach and blush. It's just a little bit gorgeous...

Peach: @michelleogundehin Instagram moodboard

 

This is a return to the earth, the sand and the soil - and possibly the perfect accompaniment to natural materials like sisal and palm. We’re calling this soothing colour palette Desert Dusk, because it’s all about natural hues, with an inclination towards warmer tones and soft, feminine curves. 

 

Lavusimo Woven Bowl

It’s a beautiful complement to the New Neutrals trend that took shape earlier this year, and it’s an ideal corollary of the everyday ‘super luxe’ trend that’s also big news at the moment – all that delicious velvet upholstery, marble and brass, and rich jewel tones we’re seeing in the homes and pixellated worlds of influencers like Erica Davies, @the_girl_with_the_green_sofa, and @thelondonchatter on Instagram. 

 

@junestudioamsterdam Instagram 

Elle Decoration’s Michelle Gundehin has written recently about the current rise of ‘povera’ finishes like rattan, bamboo, sisal and hemp being employed in the place of more traditionally ‘haute’ materials, and incorporated into the most luxe interiors spaces. 

 

It’s possibly part of a more seismic shift towards more sustainable materials and practices in homebuilding that has led a renewal of interest in natural fibres in the interiors world, and this speaks directly to everything we stand for at The Basket Room. 

Shop our Desert Dusk collection here.

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Fairtrade Fortnight 2018: How Does A Basket Weaving Cooperative Work?

With Fairtrade Fortnight in full swing and as consumers become ever more conscientious in their shopping habits, we thought we’d take a moment to talk about The Basket Room’s commitment to supporting Fair Trade.
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Ariaal Style: A Meeting of Two Tribes

Back in March this year, Camilla travelled across Kenya to meet the Ngurunit Weavers Group, the collective of 150 women who produce our beautiful Pambo Palm beaded baskets.  It’s vitally important for us to get to know the people behind our baskets, to hear their stories and to see first-hand how they live and work. And, ultimately, to bring these stories to our customers: the people who bring these baskets home. Closing the gap between maker and buyer keeps the supply chain transparent, and is the key to truly ethical, fair trade. 

pambo palm samburu the basket room nomadic

So here's the story. It all begins in a village called Ngurunit.

samburu the basket room nomadic Ngurunitlandscape samburu kenya the basket room nomadic

Ngurunit lies at the foot of the Ndoto Mountains, close to the arid Korante Plain and the Kaisut Desert. Drought is widespread here and livestock are dying. Food relief (a government scheme) is currently in action in Ngurunit, where livestock owners are incentivised to slaughter and feed from their own cattle by being paid the cash value of the animal. This is done to save animals from starving and going to waste, and to feed the people without families losing their precious investment.

landscape samburu the basket room kenya

The weavers are semi-nomadic pastoralists (herding camels, cattle, sheep and goats) known collectively as Ariaal: not fully Samburu nor fully Rendille but a rich mixture of the two tribes. The Ariaal people are known for their peaceful ways and their openness to compromise, merging characteristics from both traditions - in house building, in bead making and in handicrafts – and they speak the two tribal languages interchangeably.

dance samburu the basket room nomadic kenya

The woven, beaded baskets they produce are possibly the best metaphor for this rich, multifaceted culture: the tight and traditional basket weaving technique developed by the Rendille tribe is complemented by the bold coloured, delicate beaded embellishments seen in Samburu tribal necklaces and headdresses.

fair trade samburu the basket room nomadic

These tightly woven baskets were traditionally created by the Rendille people as vessels for collecting camels’ milk.  When made solely for this purpose, baskets were sealed with a camel colostrum coating on the inside and then regularly treated with wood smoke to keep them free from milk-spoiling microbes. 

handcraft samburu the basket room kenya

 But as plastic and metal jugs became readily available for collecting milk, the production of these baskets fell into decline and became an almost entirely forgotten art form until only very recently. It was in 2001 that access to market was achieved and these baskets found a place in the modern home as practical and attractive fruit bowls, bread baskets, planters and dressing table baskets.

So whilst these baskets are structurally influenced by the Rendille, their beads are borrowed from Samburu culture. The multi-coloured layers of beaded collars, headdresses and earrings worn by the Samburu women denote not only marital status but also other clues as to a woman’s rank within the tribe. Beads, buttons and sequins in different colours can signify anything from her husband’s wealth to how many sons she has birthed.

beads samburu tribe the basket room kenya

Yet despite all of this patriarchal symbolism, life has changed considerably for Aarial women in recent years. In this rural region of Kenya where milk is precious currency, women are now allowed to own milk-producing camels as well as milk itself. These delicately beaded baskets are symbols of empowerment for tribal women, and income from weaving helps mothers buy food and pay for school fees and transportation. 

In purchasing a Pambo Palm basket you support the livelihoods of the Ngurunit people and become a guardian of this precious craft. Have a browse and shop the collection right here.

For more pictures from the trip click here.

 

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Weaving for Equality: International Women’s Day 2017

It’s International Women’s Day on 8th March, and this year our rally cry is #BeBoldForChange. So earlier this week we caught up with two members of the Kenyan weaving cooperative we work with: Peninah and Florence. Here’s what these talented craftswomen have to say about being working women in 2017, and the barriers they have overcome through basket weaving and working within a cooperative.
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Create a Boho-Inspired Interior with an Indoor Jungle

This year we are seeing a move towards more natural home interiors; a reconnection with nature and with slowing down. ‘Greenery’, Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2017, is making us want to ditch the minimalism trend and bring the outside in.

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A Christmas Message from The Weavers

""We started as a small group but now we've grown not just in numbers, but also as individuals....To everyone that buys these baskets, we say Asante sana sana (Thank you so so much).
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We meet the Yarn Weavers of Wote!

On our recent visit to Kenya in October (now feels like a very long time ago!) we made arrangements to visit a weaving cooperative that we started working with earlier this year...
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Our Wholesale Journey

The Basket Room Kenyan Weavers Wholesale BasketsWeavers in Kenya handrolling sisal

Our baskets and bags are now stocked in shops, from London to Oslo!

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