Commissioning Craft: For the love of baskets

All around the British Isles, our makers’ materials have been gathered, their work benches cleared and tools poised in preparation to create enduring pieces of exquisite beauty and individuality for discerning customers.

Over the next four weeks we will be sharing ideas from a glorious spectrum of works which can be skilfully crafted for you and will be introducing you to our Craft Patrons who will share their experiences from years of commissioning joy. The story commences with the wonderful world of BASKETRY.

The Whitby Baskets of Britain


Baskets have always had a special place in our hearts. Since we commissioned the Baskets of Britain project nearly 5 years ago, where we asked 25 different basket makers to create 57 different varieties of baskets, we realised the extraordinary breadth of baskets we have on our tiny island - flower baskets, salmon putchers, eel catchers to name just a few - all celebrating a particular weave structure, or a tone of willow or a quirky embellishment that the basket maker has added of their own invention.

Historically, baskets were the traditional means of carrying and exchanging goods for rural trade such as wheat or chickens. Now they can adorn the arm of the chicest individual who might be out shopping for groceries on their local high street or pruning their garden roses. They can also act as storage by the fireplace for logs or in the living rooms for magazines and blankets. Whether fashion or function, sculptural or practical, there is always room for a basket in one’s life.


Kit Kemp

We asked Kit Kemp, Founder and Creative Director of Firmdale Hotels, four questions about why she loves to commission work by craft makers and her particular interest in baskets.

What value does commissioning craft bring to you personally? 

It gives an identity and a point of view into a living space. It creates something personal and says something about you. An original well designed thought through piece whether it be a woven carpet or a piece of china should last a lifetime. Whether you move home or environments a well-designed piece will always find a home and create a history and lasting memory.

Describe your favourtie or first commission? 

I think my first commission was to create a collection of embroideries for Chelsea Textiles. I learnt so much about how to create a story in fabric, and how subtle threads of colour make all the difference between success and failure. I also love creating fabrics and weaves with the company, Christopher Farr.

What do you find so inspiring about the unique qualities and potential basketry? What would you love to have made? 

I can never resist buying a beautiful basket. The first I bought from The New Craftsmen was 57 baskets all at one time celebrating basket making in the British Isles. Each basket had a particular use. They were both functional and beautiful, each made playing their own particular role whether it was to hold fish on the back of a highland pony or apple harvesting in Kent. I would love to have a Joe Hogan basket made for me where he adds driftwood into the handle.

What advice would you give to someone commissioning a craft maker for the first time?

Make sure you have some background of the maker’s work so you understand where they are coming from. Then allow the maker to have their say and go with the flow. It is an organic process and the mind must be able to be free of too many constraints to get the best from both the person commissioning and the maker themselves.


From sturdy willow picnic baskets and elegant shoppers, to practical storage pieces, discover the full range of exclusive baskets that can be commissioned from makers at The New Craftsmen now.

Download The Baskets Catalogue

If you have spotted a basket you like or would like to share your ideas for commissions with us, please contact our Private Client Sales Manager, Nicholas Rogers, who will be delighted to discuss your thoughts and requirements further.