Indonesia Paradise

Indonesia Paradise

However startling their designs may sometimes be — even to their authors — fiensley’s studio, consistently produce results that feel just right.

          ancient and modern, the traditional and the wildly innovative. Yet with solid consistency Bensley Design Studios produce triumphant wholes that conjure more than the sum of these many parts. And the wholes do include many parts, as with the featured Karawaci residence, just outside Jakarta, where BDS furnished a whole dining room, from tables to plates, with items designed and crafted in their own studios: “Even the Dutch-inspired plates -individualized with six different logo prints and an inscription – were designed by us.”
           And there’s more. These ingredients of monumental scale combined with meticulous attention to detail, of universal myth blended with local cultural history, are leavened with earthy humour and pure fun. Bensley gardens may present for your bemusement a rank of fat frogs spouting water or grinning, child-enticing poolside mouth-caves. In one spa, a painted Balinese ogre, a leering ogoh-ogoh, peers into the women’s bathing area, while suggestive cartoon paintings in the traditional Klungklung style add bawdy accents to otherwise only elegant therapy rooms.

          Despite the sometimes apparently disparate elements, there’s a solid integrity to Bensley projects. In talking about the Hotel de la Paix, for example, Bensley says, “We tore down the original hotel, which was built by the French in the 1930s or ’40s. But it had a certain Art Deco feeling that we decided to conserve when we rebuilt So the resort is a combination of Art Deco and things Khmer. Most importantly, though, it’s Khmer – we aimed at conserving some spirit of the older hotel, at the same time making it thoroughly Khmer. Our most important work ethos is to build a resort imbued with the essence of its place and the culture.”
          Aside from his resort projects, Bensley features magnificent private homes from around Asia-Pacific in Paradise by Design, not the least of these his own Baan Botanica. These days, however, he resists doing homes. They’re so personal,” he says. “And, too often, they’re a real pain in the butt; if Mr wants it one way, for example, and Mrs wants it another, things can become very tedious. So we do very few of them. Maybe one or two a year.”

          He may be doing fewer homes, but he’s choosing his commissions carefully: “Right now we’re building two. One is a 33-storey home for the richest man in India on the highest piece of land in Mumbai. It will incorporate the tallest vertical garden in the world, where one side of the building runs up from the ground like a piece of green origami in the sky.” The other home is a palace, the main royal residence for the King of Malaysia.

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