Bali vibes: John Hardy’s new store accentuates culture, craft of island’s artisans

It’s easy to be captivated by Bali’s beauty. The Indonesian island conjures visions of artisan markets, handcrafted wares and the percussive song of hand drums.
When he visited Bali in the ’70s, Canadian artist John Hardy was instantly drawn to the island’s artisanal community and heritage. He established an artist collective dedicated to creating handcrafted jewelry with techniques that had been passed down for generations.
A new John Hardy location at The Forum Shops in Las Vegas promises to immerse guests in Balinese heritage through sustainable jewelry, sculpture and objets.
The store also debuts a sonic kinetic sculpture by American artist Aaron Taylor Kuffner titled “Gamelatron Perhiasan Emas di Awn Hitam,” or “Golden Jewels in a Black Cloud.”
The sculpture is something of a player piano melded with the visual appeal of mirrorlike bronze.
Kuffner journeyed to Indonesia years ago to escape a Berlin winter and ended up staying awhile, learning about the culture, music and arts. “Indonesian culture is not a monolith, it is a country made up of tens of thousands of islands, many with distinct languages and traditions,” says Kuffner.
“This is one of the things I found inspiring. Most of my time there was dedicated to learning Gamelan.”
The orchestras of tuned gongs, bronze kettles, bamboo xylophones and hand drums fill Bali’s night air.
The sculpture at John Hardy has its own music, composed onsite to match the acoustics and intentions of the space. “Our jewelry is powerful, dramatic and inspiring,” says John Hardy Chairman Robert Hanson. “Very much like the island of Bali.”
John Hardy’s signature Classic Chain design borrows from the Balinese tradition of hand-weaving. “We still preserve this practice at our workshop in Ubud, Bali, where solely women weave Classic Chain from reclaimed silver and gold links,” says Hanson. One bracelet can take up to four days to create by hand. The handmade technique will be on display at the new store, where an artist will host jewelry-making demonstrations.
The Las Vegas location also will carry Balinese homeware and textiles from fair-trade businesses, Gaya Ceramics and Threads of Life.
For Kuffner, partnering with John Hardy is an obvious fit. “There is a meeting of the east and west, past and present, tradition and modern that we both intentionally embrace in
our art and craft.”