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From emoji to basket – BASK IT!

03 November 2021

5 min. to read

BASK IT! at DDW21 © Boudewijn Bollmann
An inspired maker with a fascination for craftsmanship, a sense of colour and a love of materials. Someone who keeps himself sharp by experimenting every year with different materials and techniques. And by creating something new that offers the dying profession of basket weaving a valuable future. That is what designer Adrianus Kundert does. During DDW, together with Crafts Council Nederland, he curated the exhibition HOW&WOW BASK IT! in Microlab Hall. The result is a catchy playful explosion of colour and shape: a comical basket with handles made of woven sweets, a bicycle basket, crazy masks and even a woven torch. An ode to the craft of basket weaving.
© Boudewijn Bollmann

When the work in corona time came to a halt, Adrianus Kundert started chatting about fabrics with Canadian designer Jamie Wolfond. This talk led to the joint founding of the now popular Basket Club. "The idea was to start an international weaving group, somewhere between a Friday afternoon get together and a making club," says Kundert. He approached high-quality designers from his network, such as Bertjan Pot, Esmeé Hofman, Simone Post, Rein Reitsma and Mae Engelgeer, now club members. Because of covid, a physical community was not possible. And so they became an Instagram club that after the summer had 3,000 and now has 20.8 k followers. "At the time, that worked well. There was a need for it, it generated engagement and brought fresh energy to the creators," he says.

Knowledge exchange and contact between like-minded people

Every week, the founders think up a new simple task in the form of an emoji. The first week it was an orange basket, the second week a cat basket. What happens around it is also important, Kundert believes. "The project provides contact and knowledge exchange between like-minded makers and braiders, and we offer a contemporary stage to the craft of weaving and braiding." The Insta-page of Basketclub, the exhibition HOW&WOW BASK IT! during DDW, and the annual programme with lectures by international basket weavers show the richness and scope of basket weaving. Just like the masterclasses by, among others, professional Esmé Hofman and Chris Kabel, who researched hedge weaving, and basket weaving in Asia.

Looking at old crafts in a new way

"There are many ways to approach the craft," says Kundert. "I am not interested in refining traditional crafts but want to translate the quality of crafts that intrigue me into the future. I look at existing materials, techniques and forms from a new angle and, through experimentation, arrive at an innovative product with a new aesthetic. I also find new materials interesting, such as foam rope, paper and sheet material, but also modern industrialised techniques. There are still many undiscovered, unexplored, exciting areas of design research," he says.

The link between craft and industry

The experiments preferably lead to unique serial products. Jamie Wolfond pitched his basket to a brand, and Kundert made CAP. This baseball cap has a complex weaving pattern from machine-cut strips of water-resistant paper leather (also known as vegan leather) that he hand-braided into the desired 3D shape and sold via Kickstarter. Like a true inventor, he is also developing a funny-looking homemade 3D basket weaving machine with spools that wrap bands around each other. If it works, it will be the first basket weaving machine ever made. That fits his mission: to link craft and industry. "The age-old technique of basket weaving is disappearing. The industry must embrace handicrafts more and offer a future to machine-assisted crafts. The computer can do things you cannot do with your hands. Conversely, with your hands, you can achieve a language of form, aesthetics, and materiality that the computer cannot match. This applies to my Bubble vases. For example, the imperfect makes for a more personal and beautiful product."

More focus on creative and autonomous work

Kundert graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2015 with his Ripening Rugs, rugs that increase in beauty as they wear out. He currently works from Berlin, where he has a studio with Hella Jongerius. He made products, interiors and spatial designs and had his successful label ODDNESS. "Because of the many things that come with it, such as attending expensive trade fairs without generating orders, peddling your product to producers and arranging sales, I no longer had the time or energy for the real thing. It was a difficult choice because I found both fascinating, but I needed more focus. That is why I decided to concentrate entirely on doing autonomous work and on assignments in which I can use my creativity, such as for Susan Bijl's shop," says the designer. If it were up to him, there would be enough ideas waiting to be done. Besides, there is still a lot of potential in the Basket Club as an international platform. There is a new website: with profiles of the creators, highlighted projects, tutorials and perhaps an auction will follow. "Next year I want to go to the Milan Design Week, where all members of the club can meet each other. I am now going to look for a partner to present with there."