Guy’s Guide: 5 Modern Architects Shaking Up the Balinese Villa Scene

“The details are not the details, they make the design” said Charles Eames, and with these five designers, the Balinese Villa has become masterfully elevated:

#1 Alexis Dornier

Origami House

What: German born, Berlin/Bali based designer Alexis Dornier has been a busy guy as of late. From designing the Ubud outpost of the co-living space Roam (which we previously mentioned here), to the design and build of Bali’s first all-natural, plant-based Mexican restaurant—La Pacha Mama, he’s still managed to squeeze in some villas. In the Origami house, traditional Balinese materials such as Teak, Ironwood, and ‘Baligreen’ Sandstone undulate and fold throughout the residence, creating several lofted spaces that ultimately unfold onto the verdant jungle canopy that surrounds the residence. It’s his details however that really standout. Using geometric tile-work and diagonally cut and mirrored stone plates to clad the columns, the origami concept is taken to the micro-level.

Don’t Miss: A visit to La Pacha Mama or his renovation to the Ubud institution: Alchemy.

#2 Andra Matin


What: One of Indonesia’s most celebrated architects, Andra Matin is probably most well known for his shutter-clad, beach-frontin’ Potato Head Beach Club. For the neighbouring Katamama hotel however, Matin channeled a vintage Bali of the 1960’s and playfully focused on reworking Balinese brickwork in a thoroughly modern, yet understated way.

Don’t Miss: Unloading some Rupiah at Canaan, an art gallery and retail space in Katamama’s courtyard that promotes hand-crafted, traditional Indonesian products and “where’d you get that” original designs. The private rooftop suites with Jacuzzi aren’t too shabby either.

#3 Ibuku

Sharma Springs

What: Ibuku is a team of designers and local craftspeople led by Elora Hardy who focus on making the most out of bamboo, and do so in some incredibly creative ways. With over forty projects built, a key element to the Ibuku philosophy is working in a holistic way. Ibuku champions working with the land, people and resources so as to contribute to the sustainability of Bali, rather than the destruction of the island that often accompanies development. How refreshing.

Don’t Miss: A visit to the Green School or Green Village, an Endor-like community of bamboo villas, and home to what has been certified by the US Building Council as ‘the greenest school on earth’. If only all our kids’ education could be like this.

#4 GM Architects

The Layar

What: Don’t confuse the Italian design duo Gianni Francione and Mauro Garavoglia with the Middle Eastern, web-dominating GM Architects, as these two have been a bit off the web-radar (how very Bali) while building some jaw-dropping residences on the island for over twenty years now. Definitely a celebrity hot-spot, at the Layar (the Indonesian word for Sail) you’ll be treated to exclusive private villas set within a 16,800 sq meter property, huge pools with Jacuzzis, and personalized butler service which comes in quite handy for the popular in-villa BBQ’s they can arrange.

Don’t Miss: Settimo Cielo—the Layar’s rustic and authentic Italian restaurant that is also open to non-guests. Fresh picked crab Pappardelle anyone?

#5 Word of Mouth

Villa Parim

What: “Intrigued by beauty with content, especially when irony is part of the equation”, Word of Mouth is a design and creative agency run by couple Valentina Audrito and Abhishake Kumbhat. With a certain fascination with eggs, their proliferation of them (be it a toilet, lounger, stool or bed) has become somewhat iconic as a symbol of the company, especially when found next to Ms. Audrito’s father’s famous ‘lips sofa’. Lips and eggs aside however, Word of Mouth has also designed some whimsically artistic, and lounge-y Balinese villas that speak more to the creative souls who call Bali their first or second home. At Villa Parim, the indoor-outdoor thing is blurred with bamboo poles framing the expansive, manicured grounds and immense sunken pool.

Don’t Miss: A stop-in at the Word of Mouth shop, an eclectic mix of clothing and designer doodads (many of which are designed by Word of Mouth themselves) that makes for a slightly more elevated souvenir than an over-sized penis bottle opener or Bintang singlet.

More Balinese villas here.

Image Credits: Main, 13, 4, 5

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Alexander Doerr

Adding a little Yang to the Wanderluxe Yin, this nomad can often be found riding his 1978 Vespa through the streets of the Big Durian. A lover of Javanese vintage, running, strange tropical flowers and brutalist architecture, he hates papayas, but is working on it.

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