Why This Woman Left a Successful Fashion Career to Build Sustainable Homes in Bali

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Elora Hardy is the daughter of John Hardy, a successful jewelry designer from Canada. She was raised in Bali, Indonesia and spent 14 years of her life growing up in the United States. After receiving a degree in fine arts, she went to New York City and carved out a successful career in the fashion industry.

In 2010, Hardy quit her job to pursue something she has always had a passion for: building sustainable structures out of bamboo. She returned to her hometown of Bali to do just that.

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Bamboo is a renewable resource that has the compressive force of concrete and the strength-to-weight ratio of steel. The only negative of the material is that it can be damaged by insects and moisture. However, there are ways to treat the material to prevent that from happening. It’s also light enough to be carried by “a few men,” according to Hardy.

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Hardy’s designs are inspired by Bali’s Green School, a school made with bamboo that was founded by her father.

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“​I urgently felt the need to be working with sustainable materials and processes, so the greater risk for me was the temptation of becoming comfortable in a career and lifestyle that wasn’t aligned with that,” Hardy told NextShark. “Being in my later twenties I felt it was the key moment for me to choose a path that I would be able to continue on for life; I needed to be designing sustainably and towards the future the way I wanted it to be. I was lucky that the opportunity turned up in a familiar context where I already had skills to offer — having grown up in Bali I spoke the language, loved the landscape, and had experience in communicating design ideas with craftsmen.”

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“My parents always worked within a local context while thinking outside of the box. Start with local material or technique, understand the breadth of the available skillset or craftsmanship, then connect it with a different and complimentary skillset or technology to make something fundamentally unique.  Also, always always make it beautiful.”

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In a TED talk, Hardy explained why her father chose bamboo to build his school:

“It’s a promise to the kids. It’s one sustainable material that they will not run out of. And when I first saw these structures under construction about six years ago, I just thought, this makes perfect sense […] Why hasn’t this happened sooner, and what can we do with it next?”

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Through her company Ibuku, Hardy says her ultimate goal is “to set the stage for a way of designing that learns from the materials that we can count on to serve both us and our environments well.”

Check out Elora Hardy’s TED Talk. 

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