The Boho Island Swaps Sarongs for a more Sophisticated Ease

bali boho island

Bali may be synonymous with ornate clifftop temples, terraced rice paddies, and the riotous beauty of Hindu canang sari offerings blooming on every threshold, but this idyllic Indonesian island isn’t often associated with high design. A handful of creative visionaries are changing that with playful and elegant spins on island traditions. French-born couturier Magali Pascal crafts delicate lace tops that recall the traditional kebaya covering worn by Balinese women. Kevala Ceramics produces sublime handmade stoneware shaped by skilled Indonesian potters. Pioneering jewelry house John Hardy – whose founder fell in love with Bali in the 1970s – continues to release globally admired collections influenced by Balinese motifs and has fostered generations of artisans in its Ubud workshop. Here, a primer for postbeach explorations.

Lulu Yasmine: Stitched with Stardust

Luiza Chang exemplifies Bali’s cultural-melting-pot appeal: The Franco-Brazilian designer has ethnic ties to Hong Kong and Portugal and studied art and costume design in Europe. Her upscale clothing line – made entirely in Bali – fuses sharp tailoring with a laid-back, folksy-bohemian sensibility. Fashion runs in Chang’s family: One grandmother was a tailor and the other was a “very sophisticated lady who loved silk and beautiful prints,” she says. “I grew up that way.” Flagship store, Petitenget Street 100XX, Seminyak; luluyasmine.com.

Magali Pascal: For Barefoot Catwalks

Set in a slender boutique that wouldn’t be out of place on the Left Bank – an atrium glass ceiling, herringbone wood floors, and a bamboo chandelier – this French-Balinese line is both beach casual and ultraglamorous. Racks display beautifully tailored pieces in shades of black, white, and cream: delicate lace tops, butter-soft leather, organic silk slip dresses, gossamer-fine lingerie. Parisian designer Magali Pascal launched the brand in 2004 after moving to Bali, and her self-described “bourgeois bohème” style continues to set the mark for haute resort wear on the island. Petitenget Street 900, Seminyak; magalipascal.com.

Kevala Ceramics: Different by Design

Each of Kevala’s handmade pieces hold a distinctive, sometimes even off-kilter beauty and real sense of place that has earned Kevala a cult following. (More than a dozen Bali properties, including the Four Seasons, Aman Resorts, and W Hotels, have commissioned Kevala designs.) After opening the first of its four retail stores two years ago, the brand has become a souvenir staple for style-seeking travelers (the Kerobokan boutique offers the largest selection). “Our clients have a high tolerance for the variations of shape, color, and size,” says head designer Alianie Y. Firmansyah. “They realize that this is the beauty of our products – every piece has its own personal touch.” Batubelig Street 100, Kerobokan; kevalaceramics.com.

John Hardy: Jewel of the Jungle

To step into John Hardy’s bamboo A-frame jewelry showroom, which “floats” above rice paddies on a tranquil estate close to Ubud, is to be transported to a kinder, gentler world – one in which artisans (680 in Bali alone) work in open-air studios with butterflies fluttering through the windows. “There’s a sense that anything is possible here,” says director of design and heritage Polly Purser, beaming a wide, infectious smile. “It’s exciting and stimulating.” During tours, guests can join the design team and artists at a long table in the dining pavilion for a lunch of traditional Balinese dishes such as chicken peanut satay with red sambal and iced lemongrass tea sweetened with palm sugar. Showroom tours by appointment; johnhardy.com.

Ibuku: Cane-Do Attitude

Continuing her father’s passion for engaging nature and Balinese culture, John Hardy’s daughter, Elora, and her team are writing a new chapter in the story of one of Asia’s most ubiquitous plants: bamboo. Since its founding in 2010, Ibuku’s designers, architects, and engineers have explored inventive ways to build homes, schools, and event spaces with bamboo. A guided tour of their Green Village, a community of private homes set along the Ayung River near Ubud, introduces soaring, multistory dwellings with swooping roofs, light-filled rooms, and organic, flowing spaces – created almost entirely from bamboo. Afterward, visitors can relax at the village’s restaurant or pool. Ibuku’s goal, Elora says, “is to provide spaces in which people can live in an authentic relationship with nature.” Sustainable, practical, beautiful: This might just be the future of architecture. Green Village tours offered weekdays at 10 am and 12:30 pm; greenvillagebali.com.

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