Born from travel-loving founders in search of authentic handcrafted objects
Since opening their online shop in 2018 Lola & Mawu have been going from strength to strength. Lola & Mawu is a 'wonder' rainbow brand creating homeware with the perfect blend of traditional techniques and infectious contemporary colours. Whilst on their travels, they fell in love with artisanal communities in Ghana and after returning to London decided to create a brand around West African artisans and their amazing talent.
"The vibrant colours are the very first thing you notice when coming to Ghana"
In Ghana, colourful African wax fabric is omnipresent, worn by men, women and children. Very often basket makers get their inspiration from the colour combination used in their favourite cloth or a new dress.
And then there are colours coming from nature when the rain season also brings an abundance of colour, with everything around bursting to bloom after many months of drought. All these colours also find their way into the basket and fan designs.
L&M tell me: "our job is just to choose the most appealing colour combinations!"
The products are woven by Artisan communities using ancestral techniques. Natural straw is an excellent material which becomes wonderfully pliable and obedient in a skilful hand. New shapes get created all the time by the inventive weavers, then L&M work with them trying to adapt those to the Western market and experimenting with different colour combinations.
The makers are constantly creating new shapes and colour schemes. The basket makers are located in Northern Ghana. Numerous artisan communities are scattered throughout the rural area around the main town, Bolgatanga, which lent its name to the worldwide known Bolga Baskets. Traditionally each village specialises in making a particular type of basketry. L&M work with more than a dozen of women collectives. All the designs are made in very small quantities and many are one-of-a-kind pieces.
Making the baskets
It starts with splitting each straw (!) in half then twisting the two halves together. After that, the twisted straw tied in bundles (separate for each colour) and dyed in a pot of hot water heated by firewood. Only when the dyed straw is dry the actual weaving begins.
That stage depends on the shape and size of a basket. After the weaving is finished the basket looks pretty much like a porcupine with countless straws sticking out. All these should be very carefully cut at the base to create the smooth finish of the surface.
"The standard size round basket (the easiest and fastest to create) takes 3 to 5 days to make, including the preparations."
Symbolism is present in a lot of the designs, the logo for example is inspired by the patterns of Mudcloth - traditional West African textile. The Sun and Moon are symbols of Mawu - the creator goddess of West Africa, here she represents the women makers and their endless creativity.
I’m told the ones flying off the online shelves are the bolga fans. They apparently are the go-to for the summer months, ideal to cool down in AND out of the house. But as you can see from my shot beside, they also make a striking wall decoration, you could even have a group of three.
My personal must-have would be those statement lampshades, I’ve used the set of 3 for my shoot and honestly not sure how I will gather the strength to send them back, they create such a wow-factor in my dining-room!
But also those vase baskets I think would make great statement pieces on top of a sideboard and filled with pampas grasses #lush (find them under their special baskets section).
“Get Up, Stand Up Now”
One of the brand’s highlight moment so far was to be featured in the amazing “Get Up, Stand Up Now” exhibition at Somerset House and to be invited to be a permanent presence at the shop afterwards. That means more orders for their collectives and subsequently more work for the makers (win win).
The "Get up, Stand Up Now" movement is all the more relevant with these uncertain times, but Lola & Mawu are hoping to continue supporting artisans by providing them with more and more work as it is always their priority.
"supporting artisans is always their priority"
Isn’t it a beautiful thing, to make such desirable quality goods knowing that they are giving work to people who need most it in the process, does it get any more satisfactory? Especially in the current climate.
DID I EVEN MENTION THE CUSHIONS!?!
SHOP THE LOOK! www.lolaandmawu.com
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