Woven Travels / interior styling

The Greatest Burden. The Least Reward. #SheDeserves better.

This year, the Fairtrade Foundation is telling the stories of female cocoa farmers through its #SheDeserves campaign. We’re delighted to see the spotlight on women for Fairtrade Fortnight since the vast majority of our incredible weavers are female farmers. Like the cocoa farmers in West Africa, our weavers are juggling the demands of family life with the ups and downs of agricultural work and drought – weaving their wonderful baskets when and where they can for a more dignified life.

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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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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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Trend Alert: Velvet Crush

We are crushing on velvet here at The Basket Room. Big time. In fact, Holly speaks dreamily of her lust for a green velvet sofa, a hot cup of tea and a stack of style magazines to work her way through. We’ve been eyeing up plush armchairs and button-backed chesterfields, and daydreaming about peachy pink ottomans.
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New Year - New Neutrals

An evolution from the brights of new modern to the soothing salves of tea rose, lavender and grey.

For anyone with an obsession with all things house and home, the dominant palette for this year will already be lingering in your awareness in soothing swathes of tea rose, grey, peach, blush, lavender and mint.

 

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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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Mother's Day - Three Generations of Weavers

The Basket Room Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Our Mother's Day collection includes some of our favourite baskets. Each one is lovingly handmade by women in rural Africa, who will have learnt the art of weaving from their Mothers and Grandmothers and in turn, will pass this age old tradition onto their own children. 

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Our Monthly Styling Comp - Your Chance to Win a £75 Voucher!

Share your baskets for a chance to win £75 in our monthly styling competition, My Basket Room.

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Share your baskets & get voting!

Have you bought a basket, a bag or even a bike basket from us? If so, we want your interior & fashion styling photos for our monthly competition #mybasketroom
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Tribal Gathering by House & Garden Magazine

Gabby Deeming & Ruth Sleightholme at House & Garden magazine, show us how to use ethnic prints and African artefacts to create schemes that stand out against the stripped-back beauty of a converted barn.
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