Style & Sustainability
Guy Bedarida, head designer, creative director and style sage behind the internationally respected John Hardy jewellery brand Ã�Â¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½ a man with green vision and a golden touch.
Words by Juliet Austin.
Sensuous, luxurious, sustainable... Mention John Hardy to any jewellery aficionado worth their weight in gold, and behold the brand’s cult-like popularity. Intricately handcrafted by a team of sixty highly skilled illustrators, designers, wax carvers and stone cutters at its Balinese design centre, each collection melds local ancestral techniques with haute joaillerie – the French art of fine jewellery sketching initiated by head designer, Guy Bedarida, upon his auspicious arrival at the company in 1999.
The son of a diplomat, Bedarida’s formative years were spent in the flourishing crucible of Europe’s cultural hotspots: the architectural splendour of Paris and Rome, the rich artistic heritage of Florence and the multi-ethnic melting pot of Tunisia. Immersed in art, history, antiquity and diversity, he watched his father shower his mother with fine jewels, commemorating each of life’s precious moments. Internalising these symbolic associations, Bedarida’s passion was ignited and his destiny sealed.
Classically educated at the Insituto Europeo di Design of Rome, Bedarida honed his craft at Boucheron in Paris’ Place Vendôme, before moving to Van Cleef & Arpels in New York where his contemporary flair and aesthetic proficiency led him to fashion one-off pieces for Hollywood’s elite. It would, however, be an invitation to visit John Hardy’s thirty-six acre compound in Bali’s central highlands that would forever alter the trajectory of his life. Experiencing an instant connection to the people, culture and environment of Bali and recognising within himself a deep affiliation with the company’s commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility, the designer cut ties with his previous life and walked into his future.
Respecting the synergy between company and artisan, Bedarida’s penchant for composition and wearability, issued forth a new era of design excellence characterised by an Eastmeets- West fusion. Embracing complex traditional techniques – rantai (woven chain), tenun (woven mesh), jawan (granulation) and ukiran (cut work) – and innovative technologies, his fresh interpretations and modern design sensibility helped establish the John Hardy Group amongst the foremost fashion harbingers of the twenty-first century.
Inspired by nature and a zeal for exploring ancient cultures and far-off lands, his collections evoke sultry glamour and sleek sophistication; each soulful, hand-hewn piece embodying the fluidity and organic susceptibility of the human hand. Succumbing to his golden touch, precious metals and stones become iconic hammered silver cuffs; brooches whose secret back grills offer wearers a for-your-eyes-only reminder of inner beauty; intricate filigreeembellished pendants and sublime jewel encrusted rings. Yet, arguably the most dazzling jewel in the John Hardy crown is the company’s near-as-damn-it revolutionary stance on sustainable luxury. Spearheaded by Bedarida and business partner, Damien Dernoncourt, an internal audit of its supply chain resulted in active investigation of cyanidefree gold sources and recycled silver. Accented by newly mined metals from 100 percent sustainable mines, traceable gemstones from conflict-free zones work alongside unconventional natural materials such as shells, bamboo and palm wood, to create the sort of eco-conscious masterpieces that not only adorn, but define.
This conscientiousness continues in the award-winning Kapal Bamboo showroom. Designed by visionary Malaysian architect, Cheong Yew Kuan, it boasts a cathedral of curving bamboo set amid adobe-style buildings, water purification leach fields and an organic farm producing enough food to feed workers’ daily lunch as they gather under the shade of giant banyan trees. On a mission to get ‘Greener Every Day,’ the company aspires to achieve carbon neutral status, offsetting carbon emissions associated with its print advertising, business air travel and electricity usage by planting bamboo seedlings on Nusa Penida, a heavily deforested island off the south coast of Bali. Covering twenty-five acres, to date over 600,000 plants provide both ecological and local economic returns. Also offering patrons opportunity to participate, Bedarida’s 2007 ‘Wear Bamboo, Plant Bamboo’ scheme uses a portion of proceeds from the limited edition John Hardy Bamboo Collection to support its imperative, “to reforest the world, one island at a time.”
Continuing the legacy established by company namesake – “utopian dreamer,” John Hardy – the designer’s sensitivity to the delicate balance of the environment is omnipresent. Pivotal to what Time Magazine described as, “A new vision… in which beauty and luxury [can] be a solution, not just a commodity,” Bedarida’s paradigm of environmental responsibility sets the gold standard for turning passion into the kind of profit that can change the world.
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