Adorned

John Hardy ~ Bali

Luxury and Sustainability

Usually these two words aren’t used in the same sentence, especially when describing high-end goods. So often, it seems things are either sustainable and lack the quality, beauty and durability we expect, or they are luxurious and seem wasteful, expensive and extravagant.  I was blown away by the mindful presence of both at John Hardy’s workshop in Bali. Follow me down the bamboo lined path to the creative world of John Hardy.

Like Jim Thompson in Thailand, John Hardy has made a profound, legendary impact in Bali, while creating a luxury brand known worldwide. Canadian born John Hardy established his workshop in Bali in 1975 after visiting the island and being inspired by the Balinese culture and tradition of jewelry-making. He spent time learning the methods and techniques and applied a new approach to those age-old traditions.

The John Hardy complex, including the workshop, showroom and outdoor dining room, was built in 1996 and is a beautiful testament to his mission and philosophy and stands as a model for conscious living and working. If the company were to ever fold, the buildings could easily be removed, recycled and consciously disposed of, and the land could continue to provide food for the people without damage to the environment. Set amidst farms and rice paddies, thought has gone into everything from the jewelry, to the buildings, to the environment, to the people. It is hard to wrap your head around how much intention and inspiration has gone into creating this superior brand, building this low-impact business, caring about the people who create and buy the jewelry and conserving the land. I have never seen a more earth conscious, quality conscious, people conscious brand.

Everything is made by hand from design through final production. The eight-step process begins in the design studio where artists and designers create design sketches for new pieces. Not a single computer is used. The final designs are even painted by hand with gouache or watercolor.  Wax molds are made and then carved by hand, absolutely no machinery is involved at John Hardy. It’s an example and display of the cultivation, protection and beauty of pure human talent and skill at work, and it’s surprising they have held to this model with the amount of volume that comes from the workshop. And yes, it is so hard to believe, every single piece comes from this humble looking workshop in the rice paddies. In fact, when we pulled up, aside from the security guards protecting the property, I thought, is this it? They haven’t compromised or cut corners to shave time off the process to speed up production, and it was refreshing to see humans creating with their hands, instead of computers or machines. For this reason, each piece is essentially a one of a kind, with tiny differences created by the human hands that have made them, while maintaining the brand consistency.

There are no goals for the artisans to meet at John Hardy, except pure quality, and there aren’t a set number of pieces they must turn out each month, no deadlines, etc. John Hardy doesn’t want the process rushed. Each piece takes however long it takes for the artisans to make, to insure the quality isn’t rushed. Each piece is painstakingly critiqued by individuals in quality control who look for imperfections before the piece is ready to be sold. The entire workshop is a testament to John Hardy’s belief in the quality and craftsmanship of each piece by the artisans. The company believes in the transfer of creative energy from the artisans during design and creation passed down to the wearer. All the silver used is reclaimed and comes mostly from the inside of discarded electronics. All the gemstones are ethically sourced and are set by expert gemologists in Thailand. The creative process and production are simply mesmerizing. Photo credit: John Hardy

 

Steeped in history and ancient cultural beliefs, each piece reflects life in Bali from the spiritual to the everyday. The classic chain, which you have most likely seen, is 100% woven, recycled metal, inspired by the art of weaving seen all over Bali as decoration for celebrations, baskets, etc. It takes one hour to make one inch of chain by hand. You can see below, the bamboo column is decorated with woven strips of leaves like the bracelets they make, spiraling up like a serpent (there is also a serpent collection at John Hardy). One of the artists wove the palm leaf greenery around that column pictured with our host we spent the morning touring the property with. The Balinese dress is so beautiful. Below is one the design sketches of the classic chain weave.

 

The Legends of the Naga collection is inspired by the Naga, the mythical water dragon, that lives in the mountains of Bali and descends the mountain to find his love the pearl. The Naga represents love, protection and prosperity in Bali. Watch this video with adorable illustrations depicting the story of the Naga. If you’ve been anywhere in Asia, you know the Naga, or some story of the dragon, is a positive, powerful creature in many Asian cultures. Below is a design sketch for a Naga piece with sapphire eyes and a special bracelet with a golden pearl from Lombok, an island off Bali. A love story expressed in jewelry, the Naga pieces that include pearls are very special, as this completes the entire story of the Naga and his love the pearl. It is said if you wear the Naga facing you, it will attract love. If you wear the Naga facing away from you, it serves to protect you. I even love the Naga Dome Ring which looks like the texture of the scales of the dragon’s skin. The black piece below is highly-prized, black mother of pearl.

One of my other favorite collections is the bamboo collection. Not only is it the main building material used around the property, for each piece sold, the company plants a certain number of bamboo seedlings. If you look very closely inside each bamboo piece, the company has etched how many seedlings were planted from the purchase of that piece. You can clearly see the bamboo seedling stamp inside the silver piece. I almost bought the yellow gold bangle below but decided on the classic chain in the picture above in a silver and yellow gold combination. Because I love the design sketches so much, I’ve included a couple from the bamboo collection.

One of the other details that makes a John Hardy piece so special is the Ukian etching or carving on the inside of many of his pieces. These depict secret mythical stories that only the wearer sees and knows. Ukian is a traditional carving method in Bali, and you can see a similar method was used on the wall in the entrance hall picture below.

Upon arriving at John Hardy, one is greeted by the beautiful Balinese people and a refreshing lemongrass cooler in a bamboo cup with a lemongrass straw. Whenever possible, everything is natural at John Hardy.

Design Studio

This building was also reclaimed and brought to the property. The designers work here in this light-filled space surrounded by rice and lemongrass. Pictures were not allowed inside the design studio to protect the designs they were currently working on. Each designer sits at a communal type work space, drawing and sketching new concepts.

Lunch Pavillion

Each day the company provides lunch for all the employees in this outdoor bamboo dining room and has a kitchen onsite where they prepare rice and food from the land surrounding the workshop. They eat in two shifts, and guests are invited to dine on traditional Balinese fare with the designers and artisans.

Workshop

You are not allowed to take pictures in the workshop to protect the production process, but having heard so many horrible stories about the treatment of people in workshops in Southeast Asia, we asked every question regarding their welfare. They work a standard 8-hour day, are paid a fair wage, get an hour for lunch, which the company provides, and so many people enjoy working there. We met two generations, a mother and daughter, currently working there together. Most are skilled in one step of the process and are masters at it, so that’s all they do, all day long. Seemed really tough to me. In the workshop, you have the opportunity to stand by the artisans, looking over their shoulders, while they work. The attention to detail is astonishing really. Later in the trip, we were told this is considered an excellent job for Balinese people, and they are treated very well here. I found this picture on DestinAsian of the inside of the workshop.

Showroom

The showroom, called the Kapal Bambu, is located in the building below. It’s highly sculptural and inspired by bamboo ships. The floor is open on each side and rice grows under the building inside the showroom. You can hear the trickle sound of water softly flowing all around the property, irrigating the rice and other plants.  All the cases are built of bamboo and glass, and the bamboo roof shingles in the shape of a turtle shell were really interesting. With the light pouring in from the glass, the entire building had a spiritual quality to it. Love that bamboo bubble chair. too.

Temple

There is also a Hindu temple on the property for daily prayers and offerings, which is usually done three times a day. Marigolds are one of the most used flowers around Bali. You can see them on the table at lunch and arranged in a cone shape flanking the temple steps.

Because of the philosophy of this brand, the quality and craftsmanship of the product, and the amount of love, detail and beautiful, conscious, human energy that goes into each piece, John Hardy has won me over.

If you’re in Bali, you have to put this on your list. It was on of the best experiences we had.

xo,

Cassandra

Pom Poms: Fun and Functional

Military | Fashion | Interiors | Animals

I’m sure you’ve seen pom poms everywhere by now, but if not, I guarantee you will notice them more after reading this. These colorful balls are trimming just about everything in the fashion and interiors worlds, and if you’ve been shopping with me lately, you know I’m obsessed with them. I noticed this trend emerging last year and thought it might be a one season thing, but these yarn balls are holding strong, and I’m so glad, because I love them.

I did a little research to find where these came from and found a great piece Martha Stewart did on the history of the pom pom. I won’t go into great detail on that, as you can read that piece here.  But, who knew these fun pom poms I wore on my roller skates as a child, and now want on everything I own, have a history rooted in military culture, signifying rank and regiment, and are worn by clergymen, as well? These are two examples of pom poms on military and clergymen hats.

 

In her piece, Stewart mentions South American culture and the light went on; That’s where I know these from. I’ve seen countless images in travel magazines depicting people in colorful, traditional dress with pom poms on everything. The more I looked, the more I realized these pom poms can be found on traditional dress in all regions. Below are images of traditional dress from all over the world with examples of pom poms in varying sizes and placement from headdresses to chest poms.

 

 

They’ve even found their way into couture and on the runway.

 

People also take great pride in dressing their animals during ceremonies and weddings, and in South America, pom poms (tulmas) are used to mark one’s llama out in the field. Omg, aren’t these so cute and intricate? My family raises livestock in south Georgia, and I wonder if we can use these to mark the cows instead of ear tags. 😉 And even more cute, a couple of these images below look like these guys are posing for selfies together.

 

Let’s face it. These bouncy colorful yarn balls are like a party on any outfit or accessory and below are a few things I’m currently in love with. The clutch and sandals can be found here along with several other pom pom accessories and dresses. Did I mention my dog tends to like these fuzzy balls on my shoes, too, and likes to try to grab one if I’m walking by him. We’re working on that. 🙂

Unfortunately I couldn’t trace the link to the original seller, but I found these pieces below on Pinterest.  I love the neutral colored poms, and this boho bag with the shells and poms is just everything. While I was in Key West at Grace on Frances, I picked up this Moroccan pom pom scarf below, which is lightweight for warmer months but big enough to be used as a small throw. I almost always need a little something over me when I’m sitting still in an air-conditioned building. The Moroccan pom pom is a very close cousin of the tassle.

 

The tulmas I mentioned above can be found all over the internet (check Etsy) and can be tied on just about any bag to dress it up without investing in a bag that has pom poms on it, in case these are trending out next year.

 

This collar is one of my favorites from Twine and Twig, and if you read my last blog post about global style, you can see how closely it resembles the tribal collars of the Maasai tribe, but take a look at this collar with the red pom poms on it. This shell and pom pom piece is an 18th century ethnographic piece in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection of jewelry. Don’t the poms punch it up even more? I love these huge intricate collar necklaces with a long simple maxi dress and a strapless, boat neck, or crew neck collar, so the they sit flat on the chest as the focal point.

 

And then my Moroccan pom pom bedding craze, links to purchase the ones below can be found here, here, and here. I’m showing all neutrals because that’s what I love, but if you click on that last link, you’ll find several in bright colors.

 

 

If you follow me on social media you know I was selecting a rug for a client project, looked down, and notice my pom pom sandals matched the oushak rug we chose for her vestibule. Serendipitous. 🙂

 

Can’t wait to see if pom poms find their way into your life after reading this.

Xo,

Cassandra

 

 

Empowering Embellishments

Accessorizing and Changing Lives

Now more than ever, the global, tribal style is trending. It’s something I have always been fascinated with because it represents far-flung places I want to go and cultural experiences I want have. I remember studying indigenous peoples while taking anthropology in college and being captivated by the way people live. Thankfully, with air travel and the global marketplace, the tiniest corners of the world are becoming easier to reach, and we can now experience those places and people and have those intricate beaded collars and necklaces, headpieces, textiles, baskets, pottery and more. I remember studying the Maasai tribe in Africa and distinctly remember wanting one of those beaded collars the first time I saw them. The Maasai have been stacking jewelry much longer than we have, as you can see below.

 

 

I recently finished the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo. When a friend recommended it, I thought, I don’t need to read this. I don’t have clutter and don’t keep things stashed away in hopes of using them someday. In fact, I don’t care for a lot of stuff. It clutters my mind and ability to be productive, creative, and efficient. I have always said, I would rather have less things, than things I feel kind of so-so about. Half way into the book, I realized I was wrong. I did in fact need this book. I finished reading the book at about midnight and wanted to get up and start purging right then. I couldn’t wait to get rid of things.

The book was about getting real with myself. Did I need this object, shirt, book, etc? Not just a shallow look at it, but a real, in-depth look at each object in my life. Was it supporting me, fulfilling me, making me feel good, etc.? Was I even using it? Why did I have this stuff? What point did it truly serve? She addresses all the excuses in the book (so-and-so gave it to me, I paid X amount for it, it might fit one day, etc). I began taking a real hard look at my things. Why did I have all this stuff, and truthfully, I already have way less than most people. I had realized it was actually causing me agitation below the surface. The constant passing by things in my house, clothes in my closet, books on my shelves that I really didn’t love, and I mean really LOVE. That’s what this book is about. In fact, in the book, she tells you to ask yourself, does this create a spark for me when I hold it and touch it? She even goes so far as to say, pick up each object and ask yourself this question? Does it create a spark for me? It has been life-changing for me. I didn’t realize how saddled I was with stuff. Why do humans have all this stuff? I mention this because you should read the book, but also because now when I’m shopping, I’m so much more mindful about what I’m buying. Do I need this? What point does it serve? I would rather have less things and each of those things I have, I truly, wholeheartedly love. I would also rather have things that support others and consciously change the lives of other humans and the world. Instead of conspicuous consumption for the sake of having more things, conscious consumption has become my mantra.

 

Brands you can feel good about, that connect you to people and places.

Recently on my trip to Key West, I found the brand Fashionable at Isle Style. Born in Ethiopia, this line of raw, distressed leather goods from around the globe are beautiful and come with a story of hope. Made by women who have overcome prostitution, poverty, addiction, and lack of opportunity in places like Ethiopia and Zambia, these products are empowering women and give them the ability to work, learn new skills, earn a living and are changing their lives, their families, and communities. I took these pictures below at Isle Style of one of their clutches and product information pieces. Aren’t these pieces gorgeous?

 

 

Here are some other pieces you’ll find on their website, and they make shoes and jewelry, too.The bucket bag with tassel are next on my list for Fall.

Then there’s Ten Thousand Villages, supporting people in villages all over the world and protecting the ancient methods, skills and handicrafts of local people, tribes, and cultures. Similar to Fashionable, they are helping people get out of poverty and create a fair wage for themselves to live and provide food and medical care for their families. I bought this ring made by women in Cambodia from bombshell casings leftover from previous wars and pulled the two other designs (an arrow and a chevron) from their website.

 

Another great find I recently ran across is this necklace from Earthbound Trading Co. They don’t have my color online, only this color, but I saw this one in the store and loved it, too. Did you see the price? Earthbound also specializes in multicultural merchandise from international artisans and suppliers from places like Indonesia and India. Look at this woven collar below. Doesn’t it look inspired by the giant beaded collars of the women in Africa above?

 

These pieces speak to my heart. I know they were made with love and hope, by the hands of individual people fighting battles I know nothing about. I know they mean food on the table for someone and one more step away from prostitution, poverty, dependency and illness. These pieces are empowering women across the globe, building confidence by helping them build skills, ensuring children in villages can attend school, and as Marie Kondo suggests in her book, when I touch them, these pieces create a spark for me because of it.

 

I hope you read the book and decide you, too, need less things, and let’s continue to work to consume consciously and truly enjoy the things we do have and free ourselves of the things we don’t.

 

Xo,

Cassandra

 

 

Anchors and Knots

The Iconic Sailing Symbol and the Maritime Puzzle in Fashion

After already delaying our sailing trip due to bad weather, I am anxiously waiting to see what the weather will do and if we can go tomorrow. It will be our last chance before leaving to head back to Atlanta. The plan was to sail out of downtown Pensacola earlier this week with Condor Sailing Adventures aboard a 40′ trimaran. Unfortunately, a cold front moved in and the weather has been terrible here in Gulf Shores with strong winds, surf and close to freezing temps. So, here I sit daydreaming about sailing, the water, the adventure and the nautical inspired clothing. It should be noted, most of these nautical inspired clothes aren’t even realistic to wear on a boat during the day while underway. Sailing is about function and safety.

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Packing Essentials

So, every trip requires certain essentials, pieces you must have depending on location, weather, activities, etc. I usually start thinking about these things way in advance, as I daydream about my adventures. I like to lay my things out and usually try to pack based on one or two color combinations, so I’m not forced to bring 10 pairs of shoes, belts and accessories to go with each outfit. For most avid travelers, especially those of us who go to Europe often, we’ve already mastered that and found out a long time ago, nothing is worse than being saddled with too much luggage while trying to get in and out of buses, airports, boats, trains, and taxis. Even the upgraded rooms in Europe are small, so there is just no where to put all the luggage. Most of us have made that mistake once or twice and have vowed never to do it again. Strategic packing is key, and I’ve found there is an art to it. It’s a fun pre-trip challenge I look forward to.

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