When John Hardy, a former art student and a radical environmentalist from Canada, set foot in Bali in the 1970s, he was instantly captivated and inspired by the natural beauty of the Indonesian isle. Bali was and still is a welcoming place for artists with a rich culture and a beautiful landscape to provide infinite sources of inspiration.
By chance, he encountered local artisans who produced handcrafted pieces using the jewellery-making techniques honed by their ancestors. The Balinese have a rich history of dedication to the art of making jewellery, brought to the island by the Majapahit Empire 700 years ago.
John began to study ancient jewellery artisanship and to work with the local descendants of goldsmiths, who once made beautiful creations for Balinese royalty. By infusing their ancient techniques with modern ingenuity, the John Hardy brand was born in 1975, offering collectors statement pieces that are unique works of art.
An avid environmentalist, his lifestyle of harmony with the natural world became an inspiration for the brand foundation. The brand’s Bali compound is built with local, low-impact natural materials, including bamboo, adobe and thatch. At its heart is the design studio, housed in a restored Balinese community hall with an antique timber structure with a natural grass roof. Nearby is the showroom, a bamboo cathedral thatched with alang alang.
When head designer and creative director Guy Bedarida joined the company in 1990s, he brought with him skills and aesthetics developed while working with some of Europe’s high-end jewellery brands. The CEO Damien Dernoncourt and Guy together elevated the brand’s sustainable philosophy by applying new sustainable practices, like using 100 per cent reclaimed silver and planting bamboo seedlings in Bali to offset the company’s carbon emissions. To date, the brand has planted 900,000 bamboos throughout the island of Bali, the noble grass helping to sustain the lifestyle of the locals as well as protecting the environment in a variety of ways including aiding the soil’s natural water retention.
Today, John Hardy is the embodiment of ‘sustainable luxury’, preserving ancient jewellery-making techniques, which would otherwise be lost, while ensuring its business operations are environmentally conscious at all levels.