Greetings from the island of Bohol in the Philippines. It took a train, a bus, two planes, two taxis, a boat and about 26 hours total of travel but here we are. We have to say, its kind of paradise. Our exploration here is going to be a little more of the nature kind, which will be a big change from the week we just spent in Indonesia. Indonesia was an education in the countries artisanal history and the many different types of manufacturing that goes on there. Needless to say, we learned a lot and we loved every minute of it.
When you land in Bali, you can tell right away that Indonesia is a country rich in culture. The airport in fact is modeled after a Balinese temple giving you your first taste of local design history. With it’s ornately carved columns and brightly painted walls it’s an appetizer for what you are about to experience. For the most part though, what you get in the way of craft in Bali is at the tourist or local design level. Venders with things like raw wood branches with hand blown glass bowls left to melt into their curves line the streets. We went to a local textile factory and saw fabric being hand painted that would later but cut and sewn into things like sarongs and button up shirts. There is furniture manufacturing there as well, but it’s mostly catering to the many villas and hotels that are popping up everywhere.
Java on the other hand is where the big business designing and manufacturing is taking place. Only a two-hour flight from Bali, landing in Jakarta feels like landing on the other side of the world. It’s a bustling metropolis that if not for the thousands of scooters filling the streets, could be mistaken for any major city in the US. We quickly boarded a train though and headed out of the city and started to explore.
Java is known for many different kinds of furniture and décor design. They do amazingly intricate wood and stone carvings, make everything from patio furniture to tubs but by far our favorite style would have to be rattan. Rattan weaving is something that has been practiced in the south Pacific for a few thousand years. It’s the process of weaving a specific variety of Palm frown into beautiful patterns. It’s used to make furniture and accessories alike. Watching a master weaver is truly like watching a dance with the hands. It’s an incredibly precise and intricate process but these weavers make it look incredibly easy. It was hard not to be inspired by this work and we can’t wait to learn more.
Well, that concludes the Indonesian portion of our design journey. We’ll catch you Friday for a Behind the Bend about our thoughts on manufacturing internationally versus domestically. It’s something that we think about a lot and we are currently learning so much more. We’re excited to keep the dialogue moving forward.