A woven banana-leaf tray, made in South Africa, travels easily. Use it as a silverware caddy or to hold healthy afternoon snacks for the kids. A basket could also serve as a catchall for your remote controls.
To buy: $26, ABC Carpet & Home, 212-473-3000.
2 of 5Brian Henn
Roost’s Seagrass Pantry Basket set would make fine found art: Hang the three pieces to liven up a bare wall. You could designate one or more baskets to hold photographs that don’t yet have a permanent home, or even to stow your pens and stationery (and never have to hunt them up again).
This wire basket by Esschert Design has handles and comes in a set. Use it as a totable tool kit: Lugging around a giant toolbox can be a drag―literally. Fill a basket just the bare essentials. Other ideas for a wire basket: It would make a fine umbrella stand (provided that it’s tightly woven and rust resistant), a convenient file holder, a pretty plant display (keep the plant in a plastic pot, and put a saucer underneath it to catch any drips), and a handy gift-wrap center.
Virtually every culture on earth has deeply rooted basket-weaving traditions. The following organizations, all of which work with the Fair Trade Federation, are helping to preserve those traditions while raising the living standards of artisans in Third World countries.
Earth Bound (earthboundinc.org): Builds partnerships with cooperatives and collectives, such as the Ye’kwana of Venezuela, to develop and sell their wares.
Aid to Artisans (aidtoartisans.org): Advises craftspeople on product design and marketing and helps them build relationships with vendors, including retail chains like Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn.
La Vida Verde (lavidaverde.com): Imports Latin American arts and crafts made from renewable materials.
Made in the U.S.A."America has its own basketry tradition, with local guilds in every state," says Michael Davis, president of the National Basketry Organization, in Brasstown, North Carolina. Among the manufacturers still doing handmade work:
Sweet Grass Baskets (sweet-grassbaskets.com), in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, produces coiled designs made of sweetgrass, bulrushes, pine needles, and palmetto leaves.
In business since 1876, the Day Basket Factory (daybasketfactory.com), in North East, Maryland, specializes in white-oak baskets.
Since 1948, the Four Winds Craft Guild (fourwindscraftguild.com) has been selling Nantucket Lightship baskets made by local craftsmen.
Longaberger (longaberger.com), a family-run company in Newark, Ohio, offers traditional woven-maple baskets.