The Street Where I Live

British by birth, New Yorker by nature.

Design Crush: Tutsi Baskets

Home and DesignAlexandra king2 Comments
My Tutsi basket, home at last

My Tutsi basket, home at last

Is there anything uglier than a TV remote control? Nope. For some unknown reason our one television came with THREE of them, taunting my clutter phobe heart and finding ever more myriad and weird out of sight places to rest their hard ugly heads. Cue much drama during episodes of Top Chef when we needed to turn up the volume during Judges Table. Anyway, to finally end this war, and it is a war, once and for all, I had been searching for something I could store all TV related electronics in- out of mind and out of sight. It took me a while to figure it out. I needed something small, yet tall enough to handle a cumbersome remote. And I wanted a lid. And for it to be beautiful. And that's when it dawned on me- the Tutsi basket.

I first became obsessed with these conical lidded baskets after I traveled to Rwanda for work, and saw them being made by smiling women weavers, casually chatting among themselves, seemingly oblivious to their performance of extraordinary alchemy with only sunshine and dry grass and fluttering fingers. African basketry is also a uniquely female art form, which I love. As this article from The New York Times points out- "Everyone thinks of African art in terms of sculpture and masks that are made by men...But textile and fiber arts are the domain of women.” 


I adored the story behind these beautiful things. The problem was, I was in Rwanda on a super intense reporting trip and didn't have time to sleep, let alone identify the Tutsi basket I wanted to take home, so I left that beautiful country basket-less. Sad indeed.

The bad news is that outside Africa, they're hard to find, and pricey. There are numerous divine examples on fancy auction sites and specialist online shops. But I rejoiced when I was able to find this, which I was about to buy before I realized I needed a slightly bigger version. I eventually found the one you can see in first picture on Ebay.  She cost a princely $50 with shipping, which I know seems like a lot for a basket. However I'm of the firm belief these are heirloom items (justifies self, frantically). Regardless, my plant jungle seems to have taken to her, and I have a uniquely chic prison for those horrible controls. Everyone's a winner.


More internet sleuthing has yielded this steal of a deal, as well as this and this.