I am sure many of you have stumbled across an image or two of these stunning looking baskets lately on Instagram. With the extended warm weathers in Finnish grounds plus berries & mushroom picking season quickly approaching, that is just about the season all things wicker make us stop (at least I do!) I am of those comfortably seated on the “rattan crazy” wagon. So, when I spotted Kokori on IG, I had to visit the Pop-up.
After a short while drowning in complete confusion on choosing one (or two) baskets, I got into chatting with Carolina Runeberg. The visionary behind Kokori. Carolina told me a bit about her project with development work in Ghana and what make’s possible for us to have access to some small part of that culture through these baskets.
Through her studies in development work in London and practice working in Africa with women rights NGO, Carolina wanted to do something more of her on. Something that would allow her to combine development work and her taste for art and design. She went to Northen Ghana, the more economically challenged area, to work with a community of basket weavers. A very old Ghanaian tradition. Northen Ghana is dry and the soil hard to cultivate so people must find ways to create more income. The baskets are now a very important source of income for the Ghanaian community providing them not only with training, fair salaries and health care insurance but also with an opportunity to use their own creativity.
All Kokori baskets are named after their designers. My first Kokori basket was interesting and slightly different looking. It is named Ophelia. Her creator, a participant of a weaving course for the less experienced weavers, called Ophelia. For some reason – And I love this part – Ophelia either couldn’t get the pot basket shape right, misunderstood the methods, didn’t care for the instructions or just simply ‘screwed up’. However, cleaver Ophelia thought she goes through with her “mistake” and added some pre-existing gables. Everyone liked it and Voilà… There was a brand new basket design!
“Ophelia basket turned out to be great for mushroom picking season!”
In Ghana, most of the labor is done by women. A project like Kokori is providing an opportunity for this women to support their families and build a higher sense of empowerment. Not such a simple task within a patriarchal society. Needless to say, Kokori is a pretty much the description of sustainability. To Carolina, the main goal is not to just sell beautiful baskets but to actually contribute to the positive development of the community. A dedicated and skilled work force is necessary for a business as such to progress and sustain itself and by now they have been able to build a work center supporting their artist, craftsmen and logistic personal.
“The aesthetic is though out to attend the western taste. A Ghanaian woman would rarely be seen walking around with a basked like this!”
Another important fact to be taken into consideration is the time it takes to produce one only basket. Besides straw type, shape and pattern there is the weaver’s experience which will finally determine the manufacturing speed. A mid size shopper, like the one on the picture above, takes 3 to 4 days to be made. A big one could take up to a week. By buying a single one of this baskets, we are helping to support and empower a large group of women who can earn their income by doing what they do best.
All baskets are 100% handmade, from cultivating the straws to dyeing and weaving. They are meant o look as handmade as they are which makes each and every one of them unique. So next time you go to pick up your mushroom with a Kokori, you are basically storing your goods on a piece of art. How special is that?! And if you still haven’t got your hands on one. During Helsinki Design week, Carolina will be holding an Autumn pop-up from 10 to 14th of September at Eerikinkatu 40.
Make sure to drop by, get lost in wicker heaven and have a nice chat with Carolina to hear more interesting facts about her great work before she pack her bags back to Ghana.
// GIVEAWAY //
In collaboration with Kokori, we would love to give away an Ophelia basket ( size L) for a lucky chosen one!
For a change to win, all you need to do is tell me what would you carry on your brand new Ophelia basket and leave a comment here on the blog.
Will you pic treasures from Finnish forest?! Store your favourite autumn blankets?! Or something completely else?!
The winer will be announced here on the blog and also on Lela Louhio and Kokori’s Instagram on Friday 13.09 at 5pm. Ophelia basket will be waiting it’s rightful owner on Saturday 14.09 at Kokori’s Pop up at Eerikinkatu 40.
AND THE WINNER IS: Kirsi K. (You’ve got email lucky girl!)
Thank you so much for participating, this was very exciting!