Paul Campbell, General Manager of Warisan
Paul, what’s your story?
I’m a farm boy from the deep south in the States. After university, I headed to Australia. Originally my wife and I frequented Indonesia, doing social work with international trainees. Eventually, we came to test if we could live here full time and that was the time of the first Bali bomb. We reckoned if we survived the chaos of that, then we could survive whatever Bali threw at us!
Do you have a background in interior design or furniture production?
I studied design in the College of Architecture at Clemson University in South Carolina, where I actually also got very much involved in social work – one thread in my life tapestry.
How did you end up in Bali? Was it fate reeling you in or more practical pursuits?
I do believe God is good, and we are directly guided into what is best for us, no matter the season in life. First it was from South Carolina to Australia, to meet my wife, and then the two of us with two little ones moving on to Bali. Then there was the transition from volunteer/social work to design and furniture.
Warisan might just be the biggest name in the furniture game on Bali. With so much competition on the island, how did Warisan get to the top of the game and how do you manage to stay there?
We are a team and a family that hopes that rather than being known as the biggest, we can be known for quality and good service, as well as the willingness to create really interesting and complicated pieces.
As General Manager of Warisan, you must see new trends popping up all the time. What are the biggest trends in furniture and design on Bali at the moment?
Since we work internationally, it’s more like an overlapping flow of everything all at once and then repetition of the previous. One side of the world heats up in one category of taste, while another cools off. That keeps us on our toes. And designers are always wanting to do something “new and different” to whatever it is that is already considered new and different. As a result, over 80% of what we produce is custom/bespoke! We are so thankful for our factory directors and the capable hands of our carpentry team.
Are there any trends or styles that you absolutely can’t stand?
Is this a style: Cheap and Nasty!?! Beauty can be affordable but it does not have to look cheap! Putting material together creatively and value engineering are paramount to creative success. Basically, if something is made well, I think I have a great appreciation for it, no matter the style, because I know how hard it is to get something right when you start with a raw log!
What’s the biggest mistake people make when furnishing and designing their homes or businesses?
Easy – they don’t expose their budgets so others, designers or consultants with knowledge and experience can design within that budget.
If we walked into your house or villa, what kind of pieces would we see?
Totally eclectic, yet all in harmony with a sense of timelessness. We took on an older home and we are sensitive to what is there. Of course, we have never finished or gotten it right (yet!). Even now there are things in transition, so please don’t come! You wouldn’t think I have ever studied design at all. Better things to spend the time and money on, so maybe I will never finish!
Can you give us a few of your favorite dining and drinking spots on the island that are just plain cool for design and interiors?
You probably won’t like my answer. More than anything, I want to sit in a space where the interior somehow engages the beautiful exterior surrounds, so I don’t think a warung on the cliff of the Bukit beaches would qualify to answer your question (and hardly any of those warungs exist like they used to). I think there are some very nice spaces in Bali but many feel contrived and over designed… Bali is such a melting pot of design concepts, so it can be overwhelming. It often seems hard for designers to edit down what they are trying to achieve because they simply have so much to choose from. Even harder is the execution. You can see so many times where a wonderful design was compromised for budget.
Where do you see the future of design going in Bali?
I am a firm believer there isn’t much new under the sun! We are always reproducing elements of nature and/or re-inventing what has come before. I would say that it will always be “spicy” here in Bali, and it is likely that things will continue to be a bit dicey as well! There are too many good talents feeding it from such various backgrounds for it not to be at least very interesting and entertaining!
What’s your philosophy behind interior design and life in general?
I am a big believer in “less is more” (but that does not mean harsh minimalism). So with design, I try to keep life simple. I try to be big on “form follows function,” and in life that gets expressed through my practical approach to things.