Modern Gourd Baskets Elevate An Ancient Art

French designer Matali Crasset partners with a group of Zimbabwean women known for their basket-weaving virtuosity.

At first, they might seem an odd couple: a French designer known for her avant-garde haircut and playful use of color, and a group of Zimbabwean women known for their basket-weaving virtuosity. But the results of their collaboration speak to the creative sparks that can fly when modern aesthetics meet traditional arts and crafts techniques.


Basket Case: II is a line of gourd baskets that design provocateur Matali Crasset developed alongside 17 women and one master weaver during a one-week workshop in Bulawayo this past spring.

Eric Gauss

“I wanted to focus the workshop on evolving this emblematic gourd basket shape,” Crasset tells Dezeen. She compares the forms to the organic shapes you might find in a kitchen garden. “It’s inexact and you feel that one person gave their time and their consideration, basically making one-of-a-kind objects each time.”

Some of the baskets are functional, such as a small mirror-sized one for a vanity, and others are purely decorative. All of the pieces are knit from ingwanga, a natural fiber, and ilala palm leaves, which provide an underlying scaffolding for the shape.

The baskets will be on display at Zimbabwe’s National Gallery through December 15. Similar baskets produced by the workshop attendees are intended for sale in local markets.

[h/t Designboom]


About the author

Senior Writer Ainsley Harris joined Fast Company in 2014. Follow her on Twitter at @ainsleyoc.