Obakki’s New Collection of Handcrafted Bowls and Spoons Reveals the Beauty of Slow Design

Obakki’s New Collection of Handcrafted Bowls and Spoons Reveals the Beauty of Slow Design

By Kathryn M.
Presented by Obakki
Carved by master craftsman Amadou in Mali, Africa, these small-batch goods make use of discarded redwood and blackwood.

While redwood has long been a coveted material for its durability and striking beauty, efforts to expand global access to more exotic forms of the species have intensified in recent decades. In Africa, redwood forests have been devastated by commercial logging, not only damaging natural ecosystems but the livelihood of local craftspeople as well. 

Obakki, a purpose-led brand of handcrafted homewares and lifestyle products, is bringing awareness to the issue with a new collection of wooden bowls and spoons—each carved using the remnants of left-behind timber from deforested areas—in order to emphasize the more sustainable, generational practices of small-scale artisans.

A member of the Dogon tribe in Mali, Africa, master craftsman Amadou has been carving with African timber since he was eight years old. The current rate of deforestation in the local community is undermining his long-held tradition.

Treana Peake, founder of Obakki and seen here with Amadou, partners with traditional artisans and rural co-ops to create unique, handcrafted goods in small quantities. 

Since 2005, Obakki and founder Treana Peake have worked with craftspeople around the world—from Mexico to Japan—in order to create small-batch, heirloom-worthy products. One of the company's most recent partnerships is with Amadou, a wood-carver in Mali, who spends up to four days turning small pieces of African redwood and African blackwood into a beautiful, hand-finished bowl or spoon.

African blackwood is particularly sought after to create musical instruments, such as clarinets or guitars, but unsustainable logging efforts now support mass-manufactured flooring as well. 

Using techniques passed down through generations, Amadou has mastered the art of hand-carving traditional wooden bowls without complex machines or fancy gadgets.

The Amadou Collection from Obakki currently includes eight-to-twelve-inch bowls perfect for serving, eating, or decorating. Other products range from seasoning to serving spoons—all delicately carved by Amadou using techniques he first learned from the perch of his father's knee.

The epitome of slow design, each redwood serving bowl displays decades of natural growth rings in the woodgrain and takes Amadou many hours of hands-on work to complete.

The global market’s growing demand and seemingly insatiable appetite for these rare materials—which promotes the over-harvesting of forests to create mass-produced consumer products—will make it difficult for Amadou to continue his craft once the remnants he currently works with are gone. The rising interest in furniture made from African redwood and African blackwood is particularly affecting craftspeople throughout Africa, who have rationally harvested these timbers for generations prior to the currently industrialized methods of deforestation.

Amadou uses remnants of both African redwood and African blackwood to create his pieces.

The fact that each bowl and spoon is upcycled from otherwise discarded pieces of wood—along with Obakki’s commitment to limited edition collections that discourage overconsumption—further highlights the ways in which these scarce natural materials should be thoughtfully considered and treasured.

The Amadou Collection from Obakki offers seasoning spoons in a variety of sizes, as shown here, as well as a seven-inch sauce spoon and eight-to-ten-inch serving spoons.

Pieces of discarded blackwood with white markings—supposedly undesirable features for mainstream wood products—lend a rough-hewn character to the handcrafted spoons.

Like all products from Obakki, the Amadou Collection respects and preserves tradition by placing the artisans at the forefront of each design. In this case, Obakki purchases each bowl and spoon directly from Amadou, with him setting the wholesale price and the company's profits going back into supporting and expanding their artisan programs around the globe. The company's efforts are also further expanded by the Obakki Foundation, which co-leads agriculture, housing, health, and education projects with local communities.

Each bowl in the collection takes on a classic shape—perfect for serving salads or as statement-making home decor.

Available in a variety of sizes, each bowl and spoon is ultimately a unique object representing the beauty that can come from time-honored skills and designs.

Shop Our Favorites From Obakki
Obakki 9" Serving Spoon
A kitchen essential, these classic wooden serving spoons are sustainably made and super functional.
Obakki 7" Seasoning Spoon
These artisanal, functional hand-carved spoons will be a hit at any dinner party.
Obakki 11" Redwood Bowl
A classic shape carved from African Redwood, this bowl is sure to impress.
Obakki Medium Earthenware Bowl
These beautifully imperfect pots will bring a touch of wabi sabi design to your space.
Obakki 18" Sisal Basket Stripe
Our eco-friendly baskets are handmade by our artisan partners in Kenya using natural dyes and locally sourced sisal fiber.
Obakki Luisa Calice Glasses Set of 2
This piece of glassware is crafted from Borosilicate glass known for its pure and resistant quality, shaped with traditional mouth blowing technique; the innovation of design comes from modern shapes inspired by aesthetics of rationalist and modernist architecture whilst respecting its...
Obakki Venancia Pitcher
We love the unique, rustic finish of this pitcher made in Tonaltepec, a community in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca, whose inhabitants have kept their ancient ceramic tradition alive for centuries. These pottery pieces are among the few in the world that use organic plant pigments to decorate.
Obakki Mama Gallina Jug
Whether you’re using it to serve water, sangria, or even as a piece of décor, this jug is certain to be a conversation starter.
Obakki Coyotepec Vase
We love the soft, organic shape and mysterious colour of this beautiful jug. San Bartolo Coyotepec is one of the most recognized pottery communities in Oaxaca, Mexico and is known for its use of this unique black clay.
Obakki Woven Black Palm Pendant
The unique shape of this pendant shade is emphasized by the sustainably-sourced palm material that it’s woven from.
Obakki Base Vase
Modern, clean lines define this chic table vase. Handcrafted in Jalisco, Mexico.
Obakki Estrella Gris Rug
Using time-honoured traditions, our artisan partners in Oaxaca blend the ancestral heritage of generations who came before them with beautiful, contemporary designs.  For the OAXACA ATELIER, quality is in the details.

We love the products we feature and hope you do, too. If you buy something through a link on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Save

Get the Shop Newsletter

Smart shopping for the design obsessed. Find what you love in our expertly curated selection of finely crafted home, office, travel, and lifestyle products.