Baskets: An African Interior Design Tradition

photo credit: African Baskets

In a continuation of Finding my Roots in Design ( Link Here), I am delving a little deeper into what true African Interior Design is and how I can incorporate that into my designs. Although, this has a very interesting path so far, I must admit that it is proving to be more difficult than I initially thought. Here I am, googling ” African Interior Design” thinking that a wealth of information would pop up but really there was not much. This haunting realization, is only more proof to the fact that I must find “the root”, not just for myself but for others that may be on the same journey.

With that being said, one thing that I can say that I found was the presence of baskets! Yes, baskets. I started to notice that baskets were one common design accessory that I saw in many African homes. The fascinating part is that this discovery spanned the continent. Not only are the baskets used in a functional way, (i.e. an item to hold things) but they are also used purely as decoration, a way to adorn the walls. This discovery is huge to me,  it is the first item I have found that is truly and authentically, AFRICAN! I actually own a few baskets from Tanzania but never knew their proper names. It’s empowering to know the names and discover the regions of where they are from. Here are a few examples  of the baskets and their origins.

THE BOLGA BASKET– Bolga baskets are handmade in farming villages in the Bolgatanga region of northern GHANA, and are perhaps the best known of all African baskets. They are woven from local, abundant kinkanhe grasscolored with natural dyes, and usually have a goat skin handle. (Source Link: HERE)



THE ZULU TELEPHONE WIRE BASKET –  weavers use colorful coated wire to create these stunning African baskets in a myriad of palettes and mesmerizing designs.Due to the very high price of copper, which is used in telephone wire, weavers are now using an annealed steel core wire that looks just like telephone wire. ( SOURCE LINK: HERE)



THE BINGA BASKET– This is probably my favorite basket and was originally used to winnow grains. It hails from Zimbabwe and is used to decorate the walls. Binga is one of Zimbabwe’s basket weaving communities located in the remote Binga districtThe range of baskets with designs inspired by nature depict the cultural values of the weavers. The baskets are made from different natural materials such as wild grasses, small vines, and palm leaves dyed with tree bark . The largest sized bowls are still used by the baTonga people for their original purpose of winnowing (had to google winnowing lol)  grains.

hanging baskets 2

I don’t know about you but it feels great to be able to put a country, name, and image to something that is purely an African Interior Design Element. This has really piqued my interests even further and I can’t wait to see what more I can discover.

What is an Interior Design Element that is African to you?

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