Frantically weaving in and out of the shops that line London’s charmingly cobbled Columbia Road, I was searching for a card. Hackney’s bustling Sunday-morning flower market was in full swing, and I had a massive bouquet of flowers in tow, when I stumbled across a brilliant homewares shop: Artisans & Adventurers. I was bewitched by the wares in the window – woven baskets, pendant lampshades and cushions that formed a cheerful sea of colour.
Venturing inside, I was greeted by an array of gorgeously illustrated cards (£3.50) designed by the boutique’s co-founder Amy Fleuriot. A black and white graphic rendering of the masks worn by the Bwa people of Burkina Faso was the perfect accompaniment to the aforementioned bouquet. Card conundrum solved, I headed for the Kiondo baskets (from £10; £65 for a set of three) with their enticing colour combinations – from dreamy pink and natural straw to an electric lime and yellow. Available in a variety of sizes, they are handmade using traditional weaving techniques and natural dyes by a collective of female weavers in rural Kenya. No two are exactly alike.
The baskets highlight the sustainable and ethical ethos that runs throughout the shop. “It is important that we work directly with our artisans,” says co-founder and buyer Bee Friedman, “so we know where the money for the goods is going and that things are being made to our strict ethical standards. It also means we can tell our customers the story behind every item in our store.”
And the sustainable sensibility never comes at the expense of style. Take the brightly coloured waxed-cotton and leather fan (£15) I fell in love with; it was the result of a relationship Fleuriot and Friedman had developed over a couple of years with craftspeople in east Ghana, and garnered countless comments as my trusted companion during the summer heatwave.
A more recent visit to Artisans & Adventurers confirmed that its wintery offerings are just as desirable. With its Zimbabwean beaded Christmas decorations (from £12), African-print stockings (from £15) made in the UK, as well as a collection of scarves (from £49) and hats (from £28) designed by Fleuriot and produced by a Sussex-based knitwear house, the festive season is looking very eco-chic.