Gone are the minimalist interior designs of yesterday. Now is the time of the “Bali Boho”. The world is hungry for eco-friendly, fair trade furniture and home wares and Bali is in the forefront of meeting those needs both in design innovation and supply.
Indonesia is not like China when producing furniture or home wares because everything is still made by hand in small villages or co-op’s scattered throughout Indonesia’s vast archipelago. There are a few factories producing furniture by machine but the vast majority of the furniture is still lovingly made by hand. We have been exporting Indonesian furniture and homewares for over twenty years and still to today I love watching an artisan or a carpenter creating an amazing piece of furniture or décor piece outback of his small home accompanied by his wife, children, chickens and cows. He stands tall with pride when we discuss his workmanship and where his creation to going to. His excitement is evident when he hears that his newly produced cabinet will grace the home of a family in Europe. You can be assured that most artisans make about the same or more percentage in profits as any Western Country. A carpenter will not sell to you if he is not going to make a profit. So fair trade is fairly commonplace in Indonesia.
Once our carpenter finish’s his piece of furniture, he then sells this on to a company that then process’s the furniture. This will include drying the wood, fixing any structural issues, sanding, finishing and exporting the furniture. This process dates back sixty years or so and works incredibly well. When you see an Indonesian company advertising that he is the manufacturer of the furniture it is a loose term compared to China where everything is machine made in-house.
When buying furniture from Indonesia it is important to remember that there are three different quality levels. Many buyers hop off a plane in Bali, get into a car and drive around buying furniture from the side of the road because the prices are just so reasonable. They then get into trouble later when they can’t provide the legal wood documentation that proves that the furniture is produced from legal wood. You cannot clear a container in any Western country without this documentation. The other problem comes later when the wood cracks or borer start appearing. Eighty per cent of the furniture found in Bali is produced in Java. Now we come to the part where “Bali is the showroom for all things Indonesian”. Believe it or not, a lot of buyers come to Bali and don’t realise that Bali is part of Indonesia. They think that everything showcased in Kuta and Seminyak originates from Bali. The first thing to understand is that Indonesia has specific area’s where a certain genre of product is produced; that also includes Bali.