Basket Case
Contemporary designers reimagine another traditional handicraft: the basket
Life / 18 Jun 2012
From ceramics to macrame, folksy design accents can be found scattered amid the IKEA-outfitted homes of many Gen Ys. The artisans responsible for this modern crafts movement are riffing on time-honored traditions, rendering products that suit fairground markets and hipster boutiques equally. The latest handiworks to grace loft apartments from Brooklyn to Los Feliz are baskets, with designers from around the world fashioning unusually coiled, woven and knotted vessels.
Doug Johnston:
Artist and designer Doug Johnston’s background is dominated by architectural work, yet it’s his softly organic original baskets for which the Brooklyn resident has become best known. He credits the wide open spaces he admired during his Oklahoma upbringing with informing his rope coiled containers, the long lines of which subtly echo the undulating landscape of the greater Tulsa area. Made of white cotton cord that’s stitched together with varying thread colors—red and navy are staples—on vintage industrial sewing machines, Johnston’s baskets line includes not only pieces for the home (bowls, trays, vases) but also for the body: his Hawla tote makes a killer summer carryall.
Stephen Burks:
Design activism comes in many forms and though the pro-social manipulation inherent in ‘persuasive design’ has been much ballyhooed as of late, there remain more subtle, yet equally effective, change-making measures to be had in the arts. For example, New York-based industrial designer Stephen Burks is using his Man Made Project to build a legacy for Senegalese artisans that endures into the future. Burks works with village basket weavers near Dakar to reinvent their craft into colorful lamps. Made from sweetgrass and recycled plastic, the works offer a contemporary take on the centuries-old tradition, with the electrically patterned shapes woven into lighting sculptures that range from pendulant to totemic.
Piet Hein Eek:
‘Fair trade’ has become a widely recognized ethical badge among coffee drinkers and, though its standards have long been applied to products other than java as well, most consumers don’t seek it out when it comes to home goods. Revered Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek is seeking to popularize socially and environmentally responsible design practices through a basket collection he designed for nonprofit organization Fair Trade Original. Implementing Eek’s designs, Vietnamese artisans working in a family-owned workshop upcycle imperfect breadboards, made from palm wood slabs, into elegantly linear baskets. Shapes and sizes vary, including fruit bowls, serving trays and waste bins.
©The Intelligence Group