Mention Bali and its beaches and padi fields come to mind. Visitors are also drawn to shopping but Balinese shopping isn’t all about surf wear or tie-dyed sarongs or boho-chic dresses. The real treasures of Balinese shopping are accessible craftsmanship—handcrafted wood furniture and ceramics which have a certain level of detail and finishing for a price that you’d never pay elsewhere.
In the times of Bali’s old feudal kingdoms, woodcarving served as temple decoration and as the bale of the rajas. Wood was also utilised in everyday household features as carved beams, columns and doors for houses.
The Balinese have for generations been known for their artisan skills in woodcarving, and even until today, continue to thrive. Even accomplished artisans from other parts of Indonesia come to Bali to practice their craft, supplying their skills to tourism and export-driven demand.
In a post-industrial culture that romanticises the hand-made, Bali is a haven for homeware hunters and interior designers. Some of them flock to Bali from as far as the United States, Japan and Europe, looking to bring home some Bali chic or statement pieces, be it an intricately carved stone statue or an antique refurbished table and bench set. A few of such shops gather in clusters on Jalan Raya Kerobokan, such as Warisan.
Balinese handcrafted wood furniture is highly sought after due to its expert craftsmanship and attention to details. Warisan, a custom manufacturer of furniture interiors that started out in 1989 collecting antiques. Now, it designs and produces its own collection, as well as making customised items upon request and has a team of more than 400 staff dedicated the art of woodcarving.
Jalan Raya Kerobokan, 68, Kuta, Bali
Tel +62 361 730 048
Opening hours: 9am to 11pm (Mon to Sat), 3.30pm to 11pm (Sun)
The ceramics industry, in comparison, had a later start in Bali. Apart from the small village of Pejaten northwest of Denpasar which was the hub of Bali’s terracotta industry, the neighbourhood of Batujimbar in Sanur gave rise to another ceramic cottage industry that has now grown into a premier ceramics-making enterprise known as Jenggala. Jenggala, whose name is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘jangala’ meaning ‘desert,’ is now based in Jimbaran, where it has a 1.2-hectare production facility which churns out tableware and decorative accents for luxury hotels and restaurants worldwide. Jenggala has perfected its own clay body with an own in-house formula, using imported raw materials from India, Thailand, Australia and other parts of Indonesia which are then mixed on-site.
Over the past 30 years “the ceramics industry in Bali has boomed,” said John Adsit, Jenggala’s business development manager who has lived in Bali for 25 years. “When Jenggala started out there were only two to three other players, now there are about 30 tableware ceramics makers here.” The aesthetics of what people look for in ceramics has also evolved over the years. The matt black look used to be popular, but now homebuyers and restaurants are looking for a balance between the rough and the glazed look, says Adsit. He showed us an example where the inside surface of a bowl is glazed and polished while on the exterior, the clay is mixed with sand to have a somewhat raw feel to it.
Today, Jenggala employs about 200 staff of which more than half are engaged in the actual production of ceramics. Many of their employees, such as Made Ledri, 50, have decades of experience having been with Jenggala from the start. Using the hand-throwing method, she gracefully evens out a mound of clay onto the potter’s wheel and within a few minutes with some hand pressure and deft maneouvering the clay body begins to take the form of a vessel. It turns out she is making salt and pepper holding dishes for the ‘Cili’ series, where Cili is the Balinese name for the Indonesian goddess of life and prosperity better known as Dewi Sri. It is also the company’s logo design and signature motif.
This Bali ceramics atelier is big with pottery fanatics—their modern, tasteful designs grace five-star restaurants and hotels on the island and as far away as Sydney and New York. If you want one of their plates on your dinner table, visit their showroom in Jimbaran—a temperature-controlled art-deco space that showcases Jenggala’s output and allows you to get a feel for the merchandise. Jenggala allows you to experience their handiwork in other ways, too, or even sign your kids up to their “Paint-a-Pot” and “Make-a-Pot” classes.
Jalan Uluwatu II, Jimbaran, Bali
Tel +62 361 703 311
Opening hours: 9am to 8pm (Daily)
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