Provenance - The Colombia Collective
Or how former architect Kate Wrigley ditched the buildings and switched her allegiance to baskets.
We’re nothing if not dogged. And we do pride ourselves on keeping our eyes permanently peeled for anything new on the interiors horizon. Our Instagram feeds began to fill with pretty maximalist tables, laid with flowers and china, beautiful table linen and copious cutlery and the loveliest basketware. We fixated on woven bowls and trays and napkin rings. And, in spite of memories of our grannys’ felt backed melamine placemats, featuring Constable’s Haywain, we most definitely fixated on placemats. With a small amount of detective work, we identified The Colombia Collective as the purveyor of the very finest of these. With a small amount of strong arming, we persuaded Kate Wrigley that The Hambledon could provide the happiest of homes for said basketware.
We love the sound of Kate. A qualified architect, she worked as an urban design consultant in London. A book called ‘Happy City’ by Charles Montgomery, about transformative urban design, transformed her life. In part a homage to the work of Bogota’s mayor Enrique Penalosa, who reversed policies that favoured motor traffic, to promote cycling and buses and invested in public buildings and spaces in the poorest parts of the city, the book led Kate to pursue a career at the mayor’s office in Colombia. After discovering the country’s incredible craftsmanship, she began to spend her weekends travelling to visit artisans along the country’s Caribbean Coast. She couldn't believe that such beautiful techniques had been passed down for generations and yet their work remained mostly unknown outside of their communities. Determined to share the incredible stories and pieces she had discovered with friends back home, Kate soon began working with her first artisan in the tiny village of Usiacuri.
The Colombia Collective now works directly with makers in communities around Colombia. Each region has its own distinctive techniques and styles. Their work with the Collective brings together these traditional skills and designs with Kate’s interpretation of modern design. The village of Usiacuri, north of Cartagena, is known for the intricate weaving of the iraca palm on a wire framework (the Sandra and Estrella placemats). The fibres of the tree are particularly robust and suited to fine work. In Sardona the palm is used in a less rigid, but equally intricate, way (Narino placemats and totes). The Colombia Collective works with over 800 artisans, predominantly women, from 14 different communities.
The placemats were what drew us in. The Sandra and the Estrella are probably the most iconic. Take in natural or tipped with green or pink and layer up with all manner of china and linen. We love the Sandra bowls and trays, perfect for fruit or outside dining. We love the Conchita bowls with their pretty petal shape. And we couldn’t resist the Narino woven tote bags. Because Summer is just around the corner. Really. It is.