Review: Bali Living: Innovative Tropical Design


This gorgeous coffee-table book is authored by Gianni Francione, with assistance by Kim Inglis, and photography by Masano Katana.

Italian-born architect Gianni Francione has resided in Pacific Asia for a quarter century, with much time spent in Bali. Having previously authored two other books on the residential architecture of Bali, Bali Modern and Bali Houses, he is a proponent of an organic style of residential design that combines sleek modernism with traditional elements of Indonesian cultural heritage.

Assisting him is British author/editor Kim Inglis, who has co-written many other books on Asian Pacific interiors, style, architecture and residential design. Providing the lush color photographs that punctuate every page is Masano Kanawa, renowned for his work in modern lifestyle, food, interiors, and architectural photography.

The book serves as an extensive survey of contemporary private residences of Bali, though several public facilities — such as a restaurant, sports club, and wedding chapel — are also depicted and profiled. All structures are expansive, expensive, distinctive, lavishly sited, and (in the authors’ own words) representative of the “new tropical international” style. Such structures are therefore particularly well attuned to the interests of the recent class of moneyed entrepreneurs, celebrities and business moguls continuing to migrate to the stunning tropical sites yet available throughout Bali.

Arranged along a choreographed thematic line, the facilities are variously described as ‘urban’ or ‘cross-cultural’ or ‘sensitive’, with each successive residence outshining the previous, or offering a different subtly nuanced take on what it can be like to live in luxury in paradise. Some are starkly modernist, all slabs and angles and jutting prows in Balinese sunlight. Others are rigorously traditionalist, dusky with deep shadows, carved wood and organic plantings. All are shown depopulated — empty of people as well as any highly personal belongings — and therefore offer nothing so much as awe-inspiring perfectionist 'gallery' settings, upon which one might project their dreams of their own future life of splendor and ease.

But the score and more architectural gems so depicted also provide a broad spectrum of the many fine details and flourishes of architectural, interior, furniture and accouterment design and selection available to those catering to the moneyed classes. Slim geometric chaises, rustic hewn timbers, soaring shingled shells, striking art pieces, infinity pools against jaw-dropping vistas, slabbed stone against polished metal, the play of dusky sunset upon water, bamboo and glass and gravel and bronze — all are presented here in novel compositions of scene after scene of ‘the good life’. In the process, Francione and Inglis have provided residential designers and architects a valuable sourcebook of sumptuous design concepts that may be adapted and interpreted for many, no matter whether they reside in Bali or elsewhere.

This book is a hardcover book in portrait format, 9.25” x 12.25”, consisting of 224 pages, with one or more photographs on every page, and with an introduction.

This book is a high-quality volume published by Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd., Singapore, and is available in North America, Latin America, Europe and South Asia from Tuttle Publishing and its affiliates.

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