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Design Sleuth: Hanging “Huacal” Baskets from Mexico with a Surprising History

Coqui Coqui Coba Bedroom, Photo by Cerruti Draim

Annie’s story last week on Coqui Coqui’s moody and mystical residence in Izamal, Mexico, led me to Julie’s post from nearly a decade ago about Coqui Coqui’s spa hotel in Coba. While checking out Julie’s story, I was drawn to a few images that featured simple, generously sized hanging wall baskets.

Coqui Coqui Coba, Photo by Cerruti Draime
Above: The hanging basket acts as a wall-mounted shelf in this guest room at the Coqui Coqui in Coba. Photograph by Eduardo Cerruti and Stephanie Draime of Cerruti Draime.

I’ve always loved baskets that have an airy and primitive look. That these were made to hang made them doubly interesting to me. They would work great in the kitchen as storage baskets for root vegetables, or in the entryway, corralling outerwear accessories. And they would make perfect magazine holders—which is how the Coqui Coqui hotel in Coba uses them.

Coqui Coqui Coba, Photo by Cerruti Draime
Above: In a sparse but textural guest room, a woven basket serves as a magazine holder. Photograph by Eduardo Cerruti and Stephanie Draime of Cerruti Draime.

I knew I had seen them before somewhere, and after visiting a few of my favorite online stores, I remembered where they had first left an impression on me: at General Store. According to the website, the wall baskets are handmade from fibers and wood and from the jonote tree by artisans from Cuetzalan, Mexico. Two pieces of the wood are bent into oval shapes, then tied together to create a woven clam-like vessel.

Hanging Wall Basket from General Store
Above: The Hanging Wall Basket from General Store measures 28.5 inches long by 15 inches tall by 12 inches wide when open; it’s currently out of stock, but I also found the basket at Hecho.
Also called a huacal (Spanish for “carrying basket”), this uniquely shaped basket was traditionally used as a baby carrier; the strap was worn across the forehead, with the basket hanging against the back. It could also be strapped to a mule. (Go here for some pretty awesome pictures of a huacal being used as it was originally intended.)

Hanging Wall Basket from Hecho Shop
Above: The Nenes Handmade Tree Bark Hanging Basket comes in medium and large (shown); the medium is $85 and the large is $105 at Hecho.
More on woven baskets just ahead:

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