By Laura Downie
It’s that time of year where we start reflecting on the year almost gone and contemplating the year almost upon us. And quite frankly, if you’re anything like me, high on the agenda for the new year is wondering where in the world (literally) 2017 will take you. Well, interiors addicts, may I suggest you add Bali to the top of your 2017 travel list, and pronto. For the culture, sunshine, scenery and the adorable people, absolutely. But also for the plentiful homewares shopping that you simply must feast your eyes on.
Need some convincing? Ok, sit back and allow me to tempt your inner shopaholic, who admittedly may be a tad weary from those pre-Christmas sales. I write this on location in Bali. Well, where better to collate a Bali buyer’s guide for you than Bali?
I’m almost three weeks into a month long trip. Think Eat, Pray, Love meets Interior Design Diaries. Being your own boss certainly has its benefits when you ask for a month off. I asked. She said yes! And, before she could change her mind, the plane ticket was booked.
With the exception of a backpacker stint in Kuta many many years ago, this is my first ‘real’ visit to Bali. And very quickly I had an appreciation for the magic of this island. A place where endless beauty and ritual can’t help but awaken your senses to a another way of life. Bali and the balinese seem to just ooze creativity. My camera has never been out of hands as I constantly capture a beautiful carved door here, or a colourful explosion there. It’s just so pretty, and lush! Instagram addicts will love it (guilty as charged!).
So, where better than amongst so much beauty, for an interior decorator stylist to travel solo for a big dose of inspiration…and shopping?
When I could could drag myself away from the magic that was Trinity Gardens where I was staying, I managed to do quite a bit of shopping in Ubud.
OH (no website yet) – I spotted ‘OH’ while scooting up Money Forest Road one day and knew I had to visit. The store itself is beautiful; pristine white walls and concrete floors and I can only imagine OH must be short for “Oh, I’ll have one of everything please,” such is the selection of beautiful homewares on display. In keeping with the brand, there is lots of black and white and so if monochromatic is your thing, then so too is OH.
Jl RAYA ANDONG is the road leading in and out of Ubud and both sides of the street are lined with stores selling furniture, crafts and homewares. Think shells, pendants, wall hangings and more. It feels like it goes on forever and may also feel a little overwhelming. It can also, I’m told, be a bit hit or miss. Luckily for me, Susanna, the creative genius and interior designer responsible for my beautiful accommodation, led me there on scooter one day and we did a quick recce of the ‘go to’ stores she’d discovered after years of research! This involved me taking a photo of the store and then retracing our steps to stop at those recommended stores and a few others which took my fancy! It was fun.
Feel free to bargain although the prices are already so reasonable and if you’re buying in volume, of course there are always deals to be had. I eventually had to accept defeat when my scooter handles could carry no more!
Another way to to do it though is to hire a driver for the afternoon and ask them to stop at the places that take your fancy from the road. Go forth and explore! Remember to take cash, oh and a bottle of water. A good shopper always hydrates!
CLOTH Owned and run by Australia designer Carina Yulianto, Cloth is also a must visit when your Bali travels take you to Ubud. And the good news is it’s on the same street (Jl. Ray Andong). An abundance of beautiful cushions, tie-dye floor mats and hand woven cotton throws, to name but a few products you can expect to enjoy. Cloth’s philosophy is to support the time honoured traditional production of the skilled craftspeople of Indonesia, supporting their trade and giving back to the community. It was here that I bought some beautiful carved out coconut tealight holders but to be honest, had I not been restricted by my scooter, I could have bought much much more.
Next, my travels took me to Canggu, a destination popular with surfers but, of course, it was not the surf I was chasing…
BUNGALOW LIVING Cushions, homewares, bags, Bungalow Living has it all. A beautifully curated homewares selection displayed rather perfectly in a store that you might get lost in for some time. I managed to spend over a million in here. Indonesian Rupiah I may add, not dollars, but very easily done nonetheless! Purchases included some great little brass pineapple hooks (IDR 80,000/AUD $8).
BILLIE’S Another cute little lifestyle shop on the same street (Jln Pantai Berawa) that you might like to swing past is Billie’s. They had a rather lovely display of wooden homewares, including a pineapple-shaped chopping board if pineapples are you thing (clearly they’re mine!) and a range of their own body product which looked and smelled divine.
CANGGU MARKET On the last Saturday of every month, Old Man’s (worth a visit for a sunset Bintang) hosts a market where island creatives come to sell their handicrafts as well as vintage clothing, jewellery and more. I was rather chuffed to find it fell on the first Saturday of my Canggu stay and I must say, I really loved it. It was here that I bought one of my favourite purchases of my trip (so far!) – a handcrafted macrame wall hanging for a steal at $15. Sold direct by the lovely Balinese man who makes them, who also spent some time with me, explaining his craft as I eagerly asked questions and delighted in his skills.
CAFE CULTURE In between shopping, I can often be found playing the role of digital nomad in one of Bali’s many impressive eateries, chomping on some organic fare and sipping on a kombucha. The interior of some of these cafes and restaurants is worth the trip alone. It’s easy to see why creatives from across the globe head here for just that. Hmm, I wonder if I could make this a yearly trip…
What are you waiting for? Pack your bags. Oh and pack an empty bag too, something tells me you might need it!