Unalome Interior discusses sustainability, honouring indigenous culture and being headquartered in Bali

We sat down with Ako Ardalan, CEO and co-founder of Unalome Interior, to discuss honouring the indigenous through design, sustainability, and the unique privileges that come with being based in Bali.

What kinds of solutions can Unalome bring to hospitality projects?

Unalome Interior specialises in providing comprehensive FF&E services, encompassing both production and procurement. Unalome Interior’s approach is tailored to meet the unique needs of each hospitality project, ensuring a seamless and high-quality outcome.

Unalome’s ethos is “rooted in the traditions of indigenous cultures” – tell us a little more about what this entails?

At Unalome Interior, our ethos is deeply intertwined with the rich traditions of indigenous cultures. Our production process hinges on the expertise of local artisans, whose skills are rooted in ancient practices such as carpentry and weaving. They are the cornerstone of our production, infusing each piece with a unique, creative and authentic touch.

Does being headquartered in Bali bring any unique advantages or challenges?

Being based in Bali grants us a distinct advantage, as we have the privilege of collaborating with generations of highly skilled artisan craftsmen and women. Their expertise is invaluable and sets us apart in delivering exceptional craftmanship. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that our location is in a beautiful part of the world, which offers clients the added benefit of enjoying furniture inspections.

One minor challenge we occasionally face is navigating time zone differences, especially when working with clients based on the other side of the world.

How do you take a sustainable approach in your work?

In a nutshell, our approach to sustainability revolves around community engagement and responsible sourcing.

Social and corporate enviromental responsibility is something I and the Unalome Interior team are genuinely passionate about and is at the core of Unalome Interior’s values. We believe in starting right in our own backyard, which means we’re actively involved in educating local schools and communities in Indonesia about waste management and combatting the serious issue of illegal logging. We think that’s where real change can begin, by raising awareness and encouraging responsible practices from the ground up.

When it comes to our work in the furniture industry, we recognise our significant environmental responsibility. We’re pretty adamant about sourcing our wood from government-certified suppliers who are committed to sustainable practices. It’s not just about meeting strict environmental standards; it’s also about making sure that trees are replanted, ensuring the long-term health of our forests and ecosystems.

Which trends have you noticed in hotel design lately and how are you navigating them?

Wellness has been quite the buzzword lately in hotel design, right? But this year, it’s taken on a bit of a twist and is getting even more exciting. It’s not just about the services hotels provide anymore – interior design now plays a role in the wellbeing of guests and their stay. Natural materials like wood, bamboo, stone and a touch of greenery are all en vogue, supported by research that highlights their positive impact on both our physical and mental well-being.

I’m also loving seeing the major resurgence of 70s design. Sustainable teak wood is playing a huge role in bringing back that groovy retro vibe, providing guests with a great sense of nostalgia. Our latest indoor collection captures this retro aesthetic, and going into autumn I think it’s a trend that hospitality interior designers should be keeping an eye on.

Tell us about a recent hotel project you worked on?

One recent project took us to Four Seasons’ Bora Bora resort, where we were tasked with furnishing their private villas. We used a lot of wood items, which is fitting because Bora Bora’s climate is quite similar to Bali. It’s truly a privilege to provide furniture to such incredible resorts all over the world. The best part? It gives me the chance to visit these stunning places too!

What can you share about any upcoming hospitality projects?

It seems like Florida is the next destination for us! We have just been awarded a project with Concord Hospitality for a restaurant there (not sure I’m allowed to disclose the name!) and we have also been asked to make outdoor the cabanas for Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota – both very interesting for us!

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