THE EDGE OF THE PLANET AND TOP OF THE WORLD WITH BIRGITTE RABENS.
This cool building is the brainchild of Birgitte Rabens, who is the force behind Rabens Saloner, a women’s fashion lifestyle brand. Birgitte migrates around the world working and playing when she’s not camping out in Copenhagen. She’s got a diverse itinerary which makes for a diverse collection, Italy for lots of stuff, Northern Thailand and Portugal for cotton, Nepal for cashmere and a yearly migration to her residence in Bali for a good part of the wares both clothing and house that make the up the brand DNA.
Introduced by a mutual friend Birgitte generously met me moments after I arrived and whirled me away to a much needed perfect breakfast. On a scooter no less. My first glimpses of Bali were thru the eyes of an ex-pat who’s spent a good span of time here creating over the past decade. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
Birgitte has impeccable taste combined with the exploration genes that I think all Danes have which had her taking on a few “creative projects” that weren’t about making goods to export; these were building projects. Construction in other countries is always fascinating. How materials are decided on and used. How the architects, builders, and contractors work together. I remember the first time I saw a 20+ story building in Hong Kong surrounded in bamboo scaffolding with people crawling all over it. I gasped, I was shocked, and then I got used to it. It works there.
The house pictured was being built to sell. It’s in Canggu, North Kuta where tons of ex-pats are are migrating. It’s a beautiful part of the island where there is good surf, good food, good fun and it's less chaotic than Seminyak. During my time with Birgitte, I wanted to explore her creative process and the reality of making things, including buildings in Bali. After a day of checking on production stuff for Rabens Saloner, we scootered out to the site to check up on the progress and say hello to the security guard who lives on site.
We darted thru roads and paths that I wouldn’t want to try to figure out how to get building materials down for any amount of compensation. To ensure a successful outcome so much has to align everyday local know-how, new ideas and a great deal of human capital are just the beginning. It was a substantial building and when we saw it. It didn't look measurably different than some others we had seen at this stage, but it felt different. It was going to be different because of the unique collision of Brigitte's creative force, her knowledge of having lived on the island for so long and her passion for collaborating with the local artisans and maximizing even challenging the local know how. It is a physical manifestation of her focused lens on the island; it is all the learning from both sides coming together to create a unique collaboration that allows everyone to contribute. It is a pile of metal, wood and cement but it’s also magic.
The house was just a framework when I saw it. But it was beautiful; it was straightforward and robust and organic but industrial, and I can’t wait to see what it ended up looking like when I’m back in Bali.
More on my adventures with Birgitte soon.