ELLE DECORATION // MAY 2012
Traditional Balinese furniture, handcrafted textiles and a palette of tropical hues combine in this laid-back, stylish and uplifting island home
Words TESSA PEARSON Photography MORTEN HOLTUM Styling/Production LYKKE FOGED
This bright and beautiful Balinese home belongs to Birgitte Raben Olrik, the Danish fashion designer behind women’s clothing brand Rabens Saloner and interiors store Rabens Atelier. For six months of the year, Birgitte lives in a pared-back, effortlessly chic Copenhagen apartment – which was featured in our May 2012 issue – and the rest of the time she’s based in Bali, in a traditional thatched villa just minutes from the beach. Located in Seminyak, a relaxed but sophisticated town on the island’s southwest coast, her home is furnished with a joyful blend of colourful fabrics and handcrafted furniture, with a few contemporary pieces thrown into the mix. Birgitte’s unique style is evident throughout the house, which feels fresh, yet still in sync with Balinese culture and craftsmanship. Here, she tells us what it’s like to live and work in an island paradise.
What can you see from your window? I can see the bright green of the surrounding trees and the beautifully shaped alang-alang grass roofs of a few neighbouring villas, and I can hear the waves down at the beach. How do you like to spend time at home? Normally, I’m either working in the third-floor loft space that I converted into a studio or hanging out with visiting friends. I also love being in my little garden; the buildings in Bali are very open, so the inside blends easily with the outdoors. Even when I’m cooking in the kitchen I feel at the heart of nature, surrounded by greenery and coconut palms.
How would you describe the house? My home isn’t a gallery, but a place to live, breathe and entertain. The interior is true to the culture and traditions you find in Bali; I have decorated the inside quite simply, and the original structure has been preserved. Did you source everything locally? Yes. Everything was either found in Bali or made here. The only thing I brought from Denmark was my coffee machine!
Is there much of a creative scene? There are many creative people from all over the world living here, designing and making products for Europe, Australia and the USA primarily. It’s inspiring. Everyone knows each other and the social life is great.
Was it easy to embrace Balinese culture? Bali has the best of both worlds. You can enjoy relaxed island living within an international community, with many modern comforts. But I have a deep respect for local culture and traditions: my house has been ceremonially blessed, and I continue to bless it every day to keep it feeling harmonious and peaceful.