Designing Paradise

John Hardy designs jewelry amidst his organic world in Bali, Indonesia

Summary: More than a designer of jewelry, John Hardy is a storyteller who is keeping a culture and a past alive through his jewelry and home furnishings designs. An expatriate Canadian who now lives in Bali with his family, John and his wife Cynthia have transformed their small Balinese business into a global design company whose designs can now be found in the world’s finest stores. Drawing inspiration from the local artisans who work to create his musings into masterpieces and the lush tropical landscape that surrounds his extraordinary open air longhouse and verdant terraced gardens, John’s approach to his creative work and domestic lifestyle has always been organic and luxurious. His passion is a primitive minimalism.
Garden Contact Information: Email
The Garden: "We’re living in one of the most beautiful places on the planet…we don’t need ornamentation." – John Hardy

*In 1994, John Hardy acquired a piece of land south of the Amandari, overlooking a gentle valley of rice fields and farmland. Together, he and Cynthia set up a tent on the land and planned their house which was eventually to be made into a reality. Their paradise home now consists of a huge open pavilion on tall ironwood posts with the upper floor set among the tree tops, allowing the lower story to frame the view. The materials are massive and natural—tree trunks and great irregular planks of teak.

Below the house, the land drops sharply some hundred meters to the Ayung river. There by the river, John and Cynthia have built shrimp ponds. John believes that if you have land, you must use it to produce food, including that part of your land that is running water. Therefore every available area is used for the production of organic food. Spinach, green beans, corn and rice are just some of the vegetation grown on the property and used to feed the 400 employees working at both the farm and factory.

In order to get to the shrimp ponds themselves, one must travel down an eighty-seven step spiral staircase enclosed in mesh for safety and built against the side of the cliff. Descending down one pasts small rice terraces and gigantic ferns to the bottom of the valley. The ponds, like the rice terraces, are shaped to fit every contour of the land, and they gleam black under the evening sky. A wooden walkway leads you across the ponds to a tiny, incredibly pretty Javanese hut of carved teak, with a little verandah lit with beeswax candles. It is here that John enjoys time relaxing with his wife, family and friends.

*The following information has been taken from the publicity materials of Katherine Dall - Paul Wilmot Communications and Diana Darling

The Gardeners' Story: *In 1975, during a round-the-world voyage as an art student from Ontario, Canadian designer John Hardy arrived on the idyllic island of Bali and was soon captivated by a culture in which art and craft seamlessly linked the past with the present. Inspired by the exotic splendor and the customs and traditions of day-to-day life, John began working with local Balinese artisans to translate his design vision into beautiful handmade jewelry and homewares intricately wrought in silver, gold, semi-precious and precious gems and native black palmwood.

Cynthia, John’s future wife was also driven by wanderlust and in 1982, set out to travel around the world, but never made it past Bali, where she too stayed to develop her own jewelry business.

In 1989, the two began working together and have not stopped since. The collaboration turned out to be magical. John had been carrying his jewelry to America in suitcases and was just about to hit it big. Neiman Marcus eventually picked up on the great hefty, silver key ring holders he had designed and requested earrings of a similar design but smaller. John fulfilled the request and people went crazy for them. Suddenly his business had to grow—fast. Meanwhile, Cynthia had an established business in California with a good small-business software program. Together, they took it from there and started to build an empire based around the John Hardy Collection, with John in charge of creativity and Cynthia in charge of logistics, and that’s how they still work today.

The couple were married in 1993. At the time, they were renting a little house on the famous Sayan gorge west of Ubud in central Bali, just below the Amandari (the celebrated boutique hotel that launched Bali into its heights of late-twentieth-century glamour). There was no running water in the house, no electricity, and no phone. To send a fax, they had to climb three hundred steps up to the main road. The moment the Internet came to Bali, the Hardys were on it!

From the beginning of his design career in Bali, John wanted to use the traditional Balinese crafts and re-invent them in a way that’s useful, timeless and, paradoxically, modern at the same time. In the past, Balinese kings maintained villages of metalsmiths to make everything from ceremonial offering bowls and dance ornaments to jewelry. Most of the artisans John works with are descendants of those royal metalsmiths whose genetic memory of ancient traditions, extraordinary skill and craftsmanship are lavished upon each item, imparting a strength, texture and integrity that machines simply cannot emulate.

From cuff links to necklaces, corkscrews to letter openers, the John Hardy Collection creates ‘contemporary heirlooms’ imbued with enduring beauty, functionality and comfort.

Over the last ten years, the size of the workshops as well as the company itself has grown exponentially and John Hardy is now positioning itself for another leap, with new markets opening in Europe and Asia.

*The following information has been taken from the publicity materials of Katherine Dall - Paul Wilmot Communications and Diana Darling

Behind the Scenes: Executive Producer: Merit Jensen Carr
Producer: Merit Jensen Carr
Director: Barry Lank
Writer: Morgan Gaboreau
Narration Writer: Robert Lower
Narrator: Bonnie Dickie
Director of Photography: Barry Lank CSC
Editor: Damon Surzyshyn
Composer: Michael Plowman

Date: 2004
Length: 30 minutes

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