French designer Matali Crasset has traveled to Africa for a series of workshops that promote traditional Zimbabwean weaving techniques. Working together with local women, they developed a series of irregularly shaped, bulbous containers made from local natural fibers. In addition to serving as decorative functional objects, the Gourd's Family provide employment for the locals while keeping a traditional craft alive.
Matali Crasset worked with 17 women and a master weaver for a week to create these containers during a workshop named Basket Case II. This was the second workshop that they completed with the aim of developing the emblematic gourd basket shape. The intricate objects are made from closely-knit natural fibers and use Inqwanga for the structure, woven with Ilala palm leaves.
The Gourd’s Family includes both functional and decorative items including a mirror, a basket and vases with several drooping udder-like compartments. The designer explains his passion for these hand-made crafts, “I love this object as it’s inexact and you feel that one person gave their time and their consideration, basically making one-of-a-kind objects each time.”
The whole project was made possible thanks to the Bulawayo Home Industries, a social scheme financed by the city of Bulawayo to help unemployed women learn a specific craft.
Photos by Matali Crasset