Designer John Hardy ups the ante on green style with his plan to reforest the world, one island at a time.
Courtesy of John Hardy Hardy's all-bamboo factory in Bali, under construction
| Credit: Courtesy of John Hardy

You can look good and still feel good," says jewelry designer John Hardy, who has become a major player in the world of sustainable luxury. The Canadian-born designer moved to Bali more than 30 years ago to study local silversmithing and eventually created a multimillion-dollar business. His intricate pieces are made largely from recycled metals and are created at the John Hardy Workshop (Br. Baturning, Mambal Abiansemal, Badung; 62-361/469-888; near Ubud, where every day more than 600 workers, plus guests from local hotels, sit down for a communal lunch harvested from the on-site organic farm.

The designer’s latest obsession is bamboo, and visitors to the workshop can explore his all-bamboo buildings, including a showroom where his designs are on display. Hardy believes that bamboo offers an instant solution. "If you’re 57 and want to do something for the earth, plant a forest of bamboo," he explains. "By the time you’re 60, you’ll have a sustainable lumberyard."

In August, Hardy opened a tiny hotel nearby called Bambu Indah (333 Jl. Raya Sayan, Ubud; no phone;; doubles from $195), which means "beautiful bamboo" in Balinese. He transplanted four 150-year-old teak houses to the site, ensuring rain-forest trees were left intact, and decorated them using Indonesian antiques. Guests can swim in the natural pool, walk in the surrounding rice paddies, and dine by candlelight at the Ayung River’s edge.

Hardy has also created a new collection of recycled sterling silver bracelets that resemble the plant. For every piece sold, he plants more bamboo on Nusa Penida, an almost deforested neighboring island. Each bracelet is engraved with the specific number of stalks planted. And that’s just the beginning: he’s also using bamboo for his furniture collection, launching next year, and for a factory that will be the world’s largest all-bamboo structure.

"When I came to the island thirty years ago, there were no cement blocks," Hardy says. "The Balinese took care of the land. I want to get back to that."