In recent years, African baskets have become more popular in contemporary interiors and can be seen gracing the pages of design magazines and enhancing the rooms of boutique hotels and homes across the world.
We at Eva Sonaike, are obsessed with African baskets and love to use them in our interiors due to their dynamic form and intricate texture.
From wall décor, accessories, and functional purposes, High-Street and luxury retailers across the globe now offer a variety of African-inspired baskets. But what is really made in Africa and has a positive impact on the continent, its people and economic development?
African basketry is an ancient skill and tradition that has survived over centuries. From Bolga Baskets in Ghana to Zulu Baskets in South Africa, each African region has its particular features and each basket has its unique style.
However, African baskets do not only serve functional and decorative purposes, but they also tell a story. Woven by hand, the tight strands are layers of stories about the traditions, the stories of livelihoods, hopes, dreams, achievements, and sacrifices.
We are taking you on a journey to introduce you to some of our favourite basket makers from across the African continent, where ancient production methods are used by local craftspeople to produce beautiful , authentic pieces for contemporary interiors.
Baba Tree is a company based in Ghana that specialises in supplying beautiful, hand-woven baskets that have taken the world by storm.
Made from all-natural materials such as elephant grass and woven by the over 200 skilled artisan weavers in the Bolgatanga community in Eastern Ghana, the baskets offer a variety of purposes, from storage, decoration to shopping.
Each basket is unique as it represents the handprint or signature of the artisan that produces it as they use their very own “rhythm and flow”. And of course, these unique differences are celebrated in the Baba Tree as the company has a philosophy to make sure their employees are rewarded justly for their individuality and skilled craftsmanship.
The Jemima 10 Cows basket, which is named after Jemima Akologo, the first artisan to weave this type of Basket is one of our favourites. The inspiration for the basket comes from the dowry payment in Bolgatanga. The custom dowry that was to be paid for a bride is two cows, but Jemima wanted ten cows, thus birthing this beautiful innovation.
One of the most functional but beautiful storage solutions for your home would be the Pakurigo Wave baskets. Made with experienced hands, using guinea grass, dyed in various shades these stylishly unique baskets have a coral-like shape, perfect for a decorative storage piece or an elegant sculpture in your home.
People of the Sun is located in Blantyre, Malawi and was established in 1979 to preserve the cultural heritage of the local people whilst helping low-income craftsmen build and maintain sustainable businesses for themselves.
Richly and expertly hand-woven by local artisans, the baskets, are made from the local Mulaza palm leaves and come in various sizes and colours dyed with natural dyes and indigenous recipes. These locally made beauties now have a platform with the People of the Sun, to share their cultural heritage and ensure that the local skills survive whilst connecting them to customers around the world through their bespoke designs.
Some of the products we love are their washing baskets and wall fans. Their classic collection of washing baskets are made out of local Mulaza Palm leaves and adds character and a handmade touch to any space. They can also serve as storage or toy baskets as they have a multi-functional purpose.
We also love their wall fans which they term Abstract masks. Designed by Swedish Designer Julia Gamborg Nielsen and inspired by traditional African masks, they serve as a bold choice for wall décor.
Founded by Akosua Afriyie-Kumi, AAKS was created to introduce beautiful weaving techniques expertly produced by the women of Ghana whilst also creating sustainable jobs within the region. Known for her handwoven bags that are stocked by the world’s most prestigious stores, AAKS also has launched a basket collection, that is gaining popularity amongst interior designers across the world.
Hand-woven and skilfully crafted in a small tranquil village near Kumasi in Northern Ghana is their collection of floor storage baskets which come in a variety of colours and are crafted from colourful woven straw.
The style of each basket represents the spirit and durability of the ancestral counterparts of the weavers. They are characterised by bright and bold colours and tell a unique story through their detail, shade and pattern.
The Kenyan Crafts Company’s mission is to introduce beautifully unique Kenyan hand-woven craftsmanship to the UK retail market. Working closely with skilled artisans in different parts of Africa their woven baskets are infused with ancient craft traditions that appeal to the modern interiors. Extracting the Sisal fibre is sincere labour of love as the fibre itself is dried, brushed and dyed with naturally.
Two of the most popular baskets are the Ngina, a burgundy and tan sisal basket that is woven from Sisal fibre. Created by a group of women weavers in a remote village in rural Kenya, these baskets are ideal for storage, laundry, shopping and organising the home.
The Tonga wall Baskets are woven by the Tonga women of the Southern province of Zambia. Each basket has a distinctive and unique traditional design and is coloured with either naturally vegetable dyes or no dyes at all.
Another great basket company is La Basketry. Launched in 2017, the UK-based online shop offers a collection of uniquely baskets hand-woven by villagers of the small town Thies in Senegal. The company specialises in producing a variety of products such as basket bags, storage baskets and tableware using a variety of materials.
One of their popular products is their handwoven mini basket. Handwoven in Senegal, this charming miniature basket is needed to add practicality and style to any space in your home. It is also useful for the general organisation of the home or for plant lovers to store a succulent or miniature house plant.
Ilala’s products are inspired by different parts of the African continent such as Kwa-Zulu Natal, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. The mission of the company was to reintroduce wonderfully wonky woven pieces to interior spaces to express the raw rustic beauty of natural handmade products.
Pieces are woven from natural materials and fibres such as river reeds, indigenous grasses, creepers and of course, most importantly, the ilala palm. Their collection offers a mixture of softness and balance through its rustic simplicity and naturally toned pieces, all of which connects you to nature. And every piece has its beauty, character and charm.
We love their Ingobozi baskets, the Crossweave baskets and the Baby Nongo Gourds. Woven from river reeds is the Ingobozi basket and can be used for small storage or as an indoor planter/vase. Handwoven in Namibia is the exquisitely rounded Crossweave basket perfect for displaying products, fruit or potpourri.
The Baby Nongo Gourds are one of the most charming and bold pieces. Lined with clay and available in plain or geometric printing they offer the perfect solution for adding a pop of texture to any space. They also serve functional purposes as they can be used as little vases to store dried flowers or greenery.
We hope this gives you an insight into the variety and beauty of African basket weaving and where to source authentic items from. Later this month, we will introduce you to how African baskets can be utilised in your own home, so keep your eyes peeled.
And if you want to enhance your home with colour and pattern, get our free COLOUR GUIDE to help you bring colour to your home with confidence and style.