Happy New Year! Before we all end our summer breaks I thought I’d relive a little of mine. I was lucky enough to get away to Bali for two weeks to do a little exploring, a little product sourcing and a lot of relaxing.
We spent the first part of our holiday in Ubud among the rice fields and terraces. This is the cultural centre of Bali – it’s filled with great Indonesian restaurants, shops and markets that sell local craft. Our driver Ketut took us exploring to Kintamani volcano, the water temple and through the local villages. I found this a real treat as the villagers in each location specialise in a local approach to traditional craft. In one village I was able to spend some time with local women who weave traditional batik. In another, we stayed with some very talented young artists whose work was very impressive – I may have purchased a painting or two. Only time will tell if I keep them for myself or if they end up in a client’s home (although I’m guessing they’ll stay with me).
Our second week was spent in the now quite trendy Seminyak. This is quite a different experience from culture-centric Ubud and the traditional Bali I remember from visits some time ago. The city modernising in a way that doesn’t feel forced, fake or tacky. The locals have embraced modern design but are incorporating it in a culturally relevant, totally exciting way that enhances the sense of place.
The result is some of the coolest restaurant and retail fit outs I’ve seen in a long time. The beach club Potato Head takes the top prize; its enormous curved faced of recycled shutters draws you in to a world of relaxation, fine food, cocktails and beautiful people. The designer in me was impressed by the aesthetics, while my inner building designer was impressed with the construction quality – what they’ve achieved is really quite a feat in fine engineering. I’d say that this a “must see” if you are ever in Seminyak.
While in Seminyak I spent a lot of time exploring the local streets and sourcing some great products (stay tuned, I’ll be sharing these with you in future posts). People are sometimes shocked when I talk about sourcing products from overseas street markets, as their imaginations go to the tourist-centric markets they’re familiar with, where stall after stall sell the same few trinkets and souvenirs. The trick is to avoid any market that’s included in any tourist guide – you’ve really got to get off the beaten path to find the unique, quality products.
I visited a local marketplace where few tourists venture. I think this one isn’t on the tourist radar as it’s huge – to the point of being almost overwhelming – and the hawkers here are so persistent and dogged that they make your average Bali hawker seem like a welcome old friend. The market was housed in a multi-storey building where each floor is dedicated to different goods. One floor has fruit, spices and other produce as far as the eye can see. Up one level and you’re amidst a sea of brightly coloured, high quality fabrics and clothing. Another level up and there’re stalls packed with distinctive locally made handicrafts.
I’m generally a pretty proficient market enthusiast, but even I started to feel a little overwhelmed with the scope at times. Luckily I had the services of Nyoman, my personal shopper for the day, who knew how to navigate the multi-level maze of stalls, translate when necessary, provide advice and even carry my goods… on her head.
It can be hard to get back in to the swing of work after an amazing holiday. As I sit here to write about my experiences, it’s very easy to slip back and imagine I’m still there, enjoying poolside cocktails, wandering the busy market stalls and just generally living life the way it’s meant to be lived.
I’m looking forward to the year ahead – I have all this inspiration from Bali that I am keen to incorporate into some amazing interiors. Keep your eyes on this blog – with all this Balinese inspiration you’re going to see some truly lively, vivid designs from CG Design Studio this year!