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Funkin’ the Foreshore: Potato Head Comes to the Beach in Bali

by Susi, 12 December 2010

In case you were wondering what that big wall of old shutters is doing near the beach in Seminyak, it’s a multi-faceted development called Potato Head Beach Club brought to you by the makers of Potato Head Jakarta (above), a description-defying place that opened back in January 2009. The brainchild of Indonesian international art collectors, Ronald Akili and Jason Gunawan, Potato Head (Jakarta) is an arty party place (bar, resto, music venue, hang central) frequented by socialites, creatives and neo-yuppies. Akili and Gunawan founded Ark Galerie in Jakarta first, then exploded their ideas outwards into the world of food-bev-tainment with Potato Head, calling in cordon-bleu trained foodie Sandra Budiman as exec chef and co-conspirator. Rumour has it the same faces are behind the soon-to-launch Potato Head Beach project in Bali. And that’s what makes it so interesting.

Akili and Gunawan think globally, have a million stamps in their passports, plus one successful partnership under their belt already before Potato Head — Ark Galerie. This edgy art space was recently renovated (below), with witty irreverance, by Andra “Aang” Matin (above), the celebrated Indonesian architect with a list of recent awards and nominations as long as his arm. He also worked with Akili and Gunawan to design Potato Head Jakarta, which sports an Indo-eco-urban, funked-out-Fornasetti kind of style. Seems the same is happening at Potato Head Beach here in Bali. We’ve noticed a vast wall of disused-reused window shutters rising near the beach. Same material seen on the ceiling at Super Potato Jakarta.

We know that they will use the same bar consultants here in Bali as they did in Jakarta (Bar Solutions of KuDeTa, Karma Kandara and Istana fame), so we can assume they will follow suit in the kitchen as well, with Ms. Budiman as exec chef. That would make sense, of course, since Akili and Budiman were married earlier this year in Bali.

Jungle drums suggest that the Bali version of Potato Head, being right on the beach, will allow Akili and Gunawan to extend their format even further and take it outdoors more. We hear of a beach club to give KuDeTa a run for its money, at least one art space, a coffee house, retail, music venue, restaurant, and (yes), rooms. About fifty of them, if we’re not mistaken. Refugees running from the rough-shod herds of camera-clutching stampeders at KuDeTa might as well just move in at Potato Head Beach.

The Potato Head concept comes as a relief on a beach that is increasingly being co-opted by soulless multinationals. And it’s certainly most welcome since it’s bringing at least one new, serious contemporary gallery to the Bali table. Good timing there, with Kendra, Biasa Artspace, and Gaya all experiencing trouble and flux at the moment. If Ark Jakarta (above) is anything to go on, we can have fairly high hopes for Potato Head Beach Club’s art space(s).

You may be forgiven if you happened to confuse the Potato Head milieu with Japan-bred Super Potato, the master atelier of Asian brut which has its own offshoots here in Bali. Specifically, we refer to Nobuyuki Narabayashi of Bali studio, Desain9 (The Junction, Casa del Mango, Indi-vie, etc.), who is a veteran of Super Potato, Japan. And Seiki Torige, Bali-based glassmaster, who has worked on Super Potato projects in Japan. Evidently, there is no connection, although there may be friendships, and certainly there are overlaps in design-philosophy.

    10 Comments


      • Joodi
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      • January 30, 2011

      Luvv it. Got to go to Potato Head come Feb 2011.

      • Joodi
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      • January 30, 2011

      Coool! Got to drop in at Potato Head come Feb 2011.

        • Susi
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        • January 30, 2011

        . . . like on 4 Feb for instance, that is going to be amazing!

      • Allie
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      • May 4, 2011

      We were soooo excited to arrive at potato head after a recommendation by a family member . It has got to be one of the coolest places I've had the pleasure to sit and have a drink (awesome bing bang and beest ever mojito) and fantastic food!!!! We have little kids and it's the first time we've enjoyed great music, chillin, awesome nibbles and in peace while the kids swam in the infinity pool...at 10 pm!! Well done creators and keepers of this amazing venue!!!!

        • Susi
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        • May 4, 2011

        Amazing place, isn't it? And to me, it feels like a place that's meant to be alive, evolving, long-term, and constantly growing and morphing and accumulating character and personality . . . and one of the things I love most about it is the S P A C E ! ! ! On an increasingly crowded island, I love it when someone is GENEROUS with space. Easier on the environment, and MUCH more enjoyable for all of us. :)

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      • May 4, 2011

      I am so excited reading this. We will be heading to Seminyak later in the year and cannot wait to experience everthing that Potato Head promises to offer. It's just fantastic that a place with creative heart and soul has found a home in this most divine place. Thank you Suzi for your coverage (found via Google). Info is still scarce on this place. Why don't they have a website yet?? Strange to see such a huge investment in a venue with an amazing story and so little promotion of it... that I can find online anyway...

        • Susi
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        • May 5, 2011

        Peter, I think Potato Head is truly "evolving". The people behind it have a collection of different enterprises, so I guess they divide their energies among them. They also have a wide network of creative friends, and I think they're simply happy to have even more opportunities to give that creativity a place to be seen and appreciated, no big rush. Also, it's very evident that they prefer to communicate virally. Follow them on Twitter if you're interested in keeping up with the news. BTW, their neighbour W Retreat & Spa is interesting at night, and at lunch. Also go way way way out the west coast and visit Alila Soori. Fab. Understated. Beautiful.

      • andrew
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      • October 18, 2011

      my name is Andrew and i really think Potato head is better than ku de ta

      • Kerrie Young
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      • October 31, 2011

      Absolutely fabulous spot, beautiful food and good service. Just be careful when booking though as when we made our reservation for our special last day out, they had no booking for us despite having confirmied it back to us on the phone. Just a disappointing end to our holiday.

      • lisa
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      • August 28, 2012

      i can not wait to visit thias place we are heading over in october this year and will be sure to book into this place for the day lol cant wait to be drinking in the sun :)

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