Designer Emily Readett Bayley Writes on her Work to Save The Rain Forests of Indonesia
In 1999 Emily was featured in an article in Japanese Vogue titled “Bridging Bali”. She was recognised for her ability to combine her British design training and heritage with fine Asian craftsmanship to produce unique furniture and decorations which were equally at home in the capitals of Europe and Asia. Twenty years on she is still building bridges in Indonesia, but her work now takes her into the hinterlands of this vast archipelago where marginalised and indigenous communities are battling, simultaneously, with the ever- increasing pressure to intensify agricultural production and the consequences of a changing climate.
Today, as part of the Indonesian governments eco system restoration program Emily is working alongside the RSPB in Hutan Harapan, a area of critically endangered rainforest in Sumatra and with the Katingan Mentaya project in Indonesian Borneo to see if the communities living in and around the protected forest areas can improve their prospects by developing agroecology.
Using their skills and carefully selected materials such as rattan, bamboo and coconuts they are working to add value to their raw materials and to craft quality, artisan products that are suitable for sale in both the local and global marketplace using balanced, eco-friendly mixed farming methods. In doing so they will have developed viable livelihood options and reduced the need to clear and burn forest for palm oil cultivation or resort to illegal logging and poaching.
One of the first skills Emily looked at was rattan weaving to produce baskets and by a stroke of luck the first load of baskets shipped to the UK in 2013 were sold to Pinewood studios and appeared in the opening scene of Star Wars The Force Awakens. Even more of a coincidence was Harrisons Ford’s visit to the basket making communities in Borneo that same year whilst filming the episode relating to role that rainforests play in the changing climate for the documentary “The Years of Living Dangerously”.
These very special rattan baskets are still available for sale this Autumn from Emily Readett-Bayley Ltd. They make ideal log baskets which are also big enough for drying logs and log storage as they are extremely strong baskets and the traditional design features four handles which are woven into the structure of the basket so that two people can carry a fully loaded basket.
Emily calls this “Operation Planet Basket” and baskets continue to be one of the key items she focuses on. Watch this space for news of more products crossing the bridge!