The old-world technique of caning is still going strong, as brands keep reimagining it in more interesting forms and shapes. Not only do your rooms need to look good, but they also need to feel good, and baskets are the secret item leading designers have long used to give an interior a more layered, cultured, eclectic look.
They are the ultimate multifunctional piece, whether for practical or decorative use, a great basket is a great buy that you are guaranteed to use daily.
It’s interesting how many companies are making more modern versions such asLoewe’s basketry exhibition in Milan where art and craft intertwined –which has put the endangered art of basketry onto the contemporary stage for a renewed appreciation and much deserved recognition.
Eleven master weavers create limited edition objets d’art using Loewe leather for an exhibition during Salone del Mobile With Loewe’s baskets they have put the endangered art of basketry onto the contemporary stage for a renewed appreciation and much deserved recognition.
Jonathan Anderson, creative director of Spanish luxury brand Loewe, is a committed champion of craft. ‘It’s something I’ve always been fascinated by, this idea of an individual being able to make something,’ he says. ‘Craft is modernity; to look at different craft forms over time is a very good barometer to know where people are.’ His efforts to promote craft extend to the brand’s annual exhibitions in Milan, which have celebrated the like marquetry, ceramics, and textiles. This year’s display – turned the spotlight on basket making.
Spanish luxury brand Loewe is explored worldwide traditions of basketry, using its signature leather to elevate woven containers from South African collective Design Afrika, and baskets made from homegrown willow by Irish craftsman Joe Hogan. Among the 11-strong talents are two of Japan’s foremost bamboo artists, Jiro Yonezawa and Hafu Matsumoto.
They have been asked to swap their usual strips of bamboo for natural dyed Loewe leather, and see just where their creativity takes them. The resulting seven pieces were an exquisite marriage of technique and material.
Titled ‘Loewe Baskets’, the show was divided into two sections: Inspiration and Collection. For the former, Loewe invited 11 international artists, mostly master weavers but with very different styles and techniques, to create a limited-edition objet d’art using Loewe leather, based on the theme of basketry – featuring bags, accessories and charms that have been woven in Loewe leather by three leading Spanish artisans who specialise in traditional Galician weaving and knotting techniques.
Anderson was first inspired to focus on basketry after inviting 2018 Loewe Craft Prize nominee Joe Hogan (who has also taken part in ‘Loewe Baskets’) to create large-scale woven pods for his S/S19 fashion show. ‘I wanted to focus on this idea of a vessel, of carrying or displaying it. There’s a historical context this year too, looking at Spain, America, Japan, all around the world, and the different ways of making a basket sculpture,’ Anderson says.
Most of the participating artists typically weave with natural fibers such as reed, straw, jute or willow, drawing inspiration from regional traditions. Jennifer Zurick, an artist who lives in rural Kentucky, usually works with willow bark that she harvests herself. For Loewe, she created a sculptural piece using cord leather and willow bark that could easily be called abstract expressionist in its twisting, rhythmic movement.
Binky Newman, of Design Afrika, worked with AmaXhosa weavers from outside Cape Town to create baskets based on traditional forms. Their pieces for the exhibition ‘are a contemporary interpretation of traditional techniques and materials’, she says. ‘This balance is central to our design philosophy, whereby we aim to nurture and sustain tradition while encouraging development of new products that are relevant to a contemporary lifestyle
If a basket could tell a story, the most intriguing one to hear might be Geisha’s Handbag, by American artist Deloss Webber, who lives in northern Washington State.
Webber learned to weave from his mother while growing up in North Africa and Spain, but his travels to Japan have also been a big influence on his work. Taking the form of a traditional geisha handbag, his piece is weighted down by a heavy river stone, which is placed within the tightly woven form. Stones, sourced from the north-west United States and the Salish Sea, ‘act as the foundation of my work’, says Webber. Combined with fibre, they ‘elicit a visceral response to create their own contemporary artifact’.
The re-contextualisation of traditional techniques is also at the heart of the Loewe Collection pieces. For the all-women collective As Redeiras, which made a series of unique charms, the inspiration was fishermen’s nets and knots. Elsewhere, Idoia Cuesta, who typically works with yarns or natural materials, studied with Galician basket makers who passed on their knowledge of materials and techniques, such as transforming a branch of a tree into a strip of wood and using the wealth of vegetable fibers that exist naturally in the region. In her designs for Loewe, she used ‘intuitive techniques, inspired by how birds make their nests. Although apparently chaotic, it is actually a very complex process,’ she says. Taking a cue from Japanese basketry, she also wove together bamboo and leather.
Where To Get The Best Baskets:
Here is a roundup of our fave versions and suppliers. Remember, there are a few rules to observe when purchasing a new-season basket: the emphasis is on proportion, weave, colour, detailing and finish.
You don’t want a basket that is top heavy, badly-made or too yellow in hue.
You will spot them in all good interiors – woven pieces you can use to stow everything from magazines to wood, blankets, towels, toys, loo paper, ferns, a citrus tree, whatever you fancy. This is where top designers source them.
One of the biggest and best ranges in the country of African, Chinese, Indonesian and Indian baskets with vintage, new even tribal pieces, big to small, all sizes and shapes. They run the full gamut. Read more, ‘Hope You’ve Saved Your Pennies: Orient House Has Three New Shipments.’ Regularly raided by Australia’s leading designers – they are the kind of baskets that grace the country’s best houses, including their own – softening interiors, everywhere. (02) 9660 3895; www.orienthouse.com.au
THE GENERAL TRADING COMPANY
Top designers head here for huge rush baskets in square and rectangular shapes with handles to place in pairs under tables. It’s often a case of demand exceeding demand – so drop in as often as you can. 7 Knox Street, Double Bay, (02) 9363 0093.