This story began 20 years ago whilst criss-crossing southern and east Africa, where I had a taster of the abundant, rich, cultural traditions. I spent most of my working life working in interior design, where I often veered towards the natural, the textured, the pared down. I have since been reintroduced to the to the wonderfully wonky woven wares of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Malawi and Matabeleland, Zimbabwe and I seek to bring the raw rustic beauty and unexpected energy of handmade, natural pieces to interior spaces and environments, through ILALA. Today, my team and I personally source handwoven furniture and baskets from these rural sub-Saharan communities. Everything in the ILALA catalogue is woven from organic ilala palm, river reeds, grasses, cane, grain stalks and creepers. In fact they are so organic that we often find traces of sun-baked mud on arrival in the UK. The grasses reflect the particular climate, topography and ecology of each region, and the distinct patterns and styles express traditional craftsmanship and cultural heritage of the communities that weave them.
By sourcing and distributing these beautifully handcrafted homewares, we help communities maintain their rich weaving tradition, where local people take great pride in ancient skills. We also help the local ladies to have a life outside their homes and to gain financial independence. The money they earn from weaving goes back into the weaving communities. The ILALA family is a rich tapestry of many threads, woven together with passion to bring you pieces that are authentic, personal and beautiful.