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.