If Elora Hardy had been told 15 years ago that bamboo would be at the core of her life, she would’ve laughed. That’s life. Now this 35-year-old designer dedicates her life to decorate landscapes with buildings, schools and endless natural ideas in which the common denominator is bamboo.
I think people yearn to be able to enjoy a gentle breeze, look at a beautiful tree or be connected to nature.
We saw her work, and after being astounded by her designs, we contacted her team. Elora Hardy is currently on her way to the United States, where she’ll participate as a speaker at the US Green Building Conference – said Renate Louise, her personal assistant – but she wants to talk to you, could you wait? Of course we can! This story deserves it.
I think people yearn to be able to enjoy a gentle breeze, look at a beautiful tree or be connected to nature – she says between the lines. And why? We ask… is this a consequence of living in the developed world?
Hooked on bamboo
Raised in Bali, Elora had always had a special connection with the island of Indonesia. Throughout her childhood she drank in the inspiration from highly skilled local artisans of the island and from her parents’ jewelry designs. When she was 14, Elora immigrated to the United States and studied there until she got a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. When she was in New York City, she began designing prints for Donna Karan’s fashion collections.
The Green School is extremely green. Classrooms have no walls, desks aren’t square. In it the children, who come from all over the world, smile and learn holism and green education.
However, one day, the extraordinary Green School buildings that her father had decided to build captured Elora Hardy’s heart. So much so that the designer decided to leave her successful career in the fashion world. A team of architects had gathered to build the Green School and, together, had established a new form of construction. I wanted to participate, learn how to build like them, and it turned out they needed someone to reinforce and lead the team. So I founded Ibuku, which formalized the construction workshop. Together, we finished building the Green Village.
A school without walls or squared desks
The Green School doesn’t look like a school. It’s extremely green. Classrooms have no walls, desks aren’t square. In it the children, who come from all over the world, smile and learn holism and green education. It’s an example of education and a paradise for learning. We recommend watching this video in which John Hardy, Green School founder and Elora Hardy’s father, explains all the details of this new learning philosophy.
Since this happened it’s rained a lot in Bali, and not just water. Elora reconnected with the culture and landscape she loves so much and nowadays she keeps on contacting Balinese artisans with innovative designers and architects with the aim of turning Bali into a world center for sustainable design. Ibuku has designed and built 70 unique structures, many of them on the island of Indonesia and in other places. Its most recent projects are being carried out in Sumba Island, Hong Kong, and the next project they’ve planned will be in Africa. It seems like they want to build a bamboo structure on one of this continent’s lost islands.
The goal for all these projects is to create value and show the wonders that wild nature can offer. Ultimately, we also want to open people’s hearts to nature – comments Elora.
Working with bamboo isn’t easy
For those who don’t know, bamboo is a member of the grass family with 1,450 species worldwide. Ibuku mainly uses the species Dendrocalamus Asper, known as Petung in Indonesia. It grows rapidly: With very little care, a bamboo shoot can become a structural column in only three years, while softwoods take 10 to 20 years.
Bamboo is as strong as concrete and offers as much resistance to weight as steel. In terms of sustainability, due to its 3-year growth cycle and its ability to reduce carbon emissions, bamboo is a singularly efficient and responsible plant.
But working with bamboo isn’t easy, because bamboo is curved, narrow and hollow, so the conventional rules for wood in architecture can’t be applied. We have been able to do what we do because of our designer’s flexible and creative minds and the skill and care of the craftsmen we build with – explains Elora.
Calmness and joy, the reward
Of course, the reward is valuable. I see people’s sense of wonder reflected in their faces when they visit our homes. They say they wouldn’t have imagined it’d be that way, even though they’d seen pictures before. I see a calmness emanate as well as a strange joy which grows when they discover the details and simple things – she comments. Surely, we can all imagine it, spending a few days in a bamboo house can’t be an easily forgotten experience.
Some of the houses designed by Ibuku are rented privately by their owners. But is there a bamboo hotel where we can enjoy the experience? – we asked. We haven’t designed a whole hotel yet, but we’ve created a few key structures at Bambu Indah Hotel – she answered.
Thinking outside the box
There are many designers in Europe who want to opt for ecological designs. She knows that, her advice is to be flexible and tenacious. You need to think outside the box, be creative and work hard in the area in which you’ve specialized, because the world needs longterm solutions that can take on what the future might bring.
I see people’s sense of wonder reflected in their faces when they visit our homes. They say they wouldn’t have imagined it’d be that way, even though they’d seen pictures before. I see a calmness emanate as well as a strange joy which grows when they discover the details and simple things.
We know that the things we need are limited, and soon they’ll be scarce, which is why we need to explore, discover and support new time-resistant ideas. Be part of the future – she advises consumers. Use your precious money wisely, as an investment for your future. Be a ‘curator’ for the future you want to see, even in the smallest details. It’s too easy to quit and not speak out, but the human mind is very innovative and creative.
As a final reflection, Elora Hardy thinks that it’s strange that several of the architectural systems that have been developed tend to separate us from nature. I love seeing projects that have been born out of place, which have been fueled by the information they had, and built considering their location as part of the project. Perhaps that’s why the projects Ibuku has carried out have already been published in media such as the NYTimes, AD or CBS.
Use your precious money wisely, as an investment for your future. Be a ‘curator’ for the future you want to see, even in the smallest details.