JUL is an international creative partnership.
The principal figures in this partnership that spans the Pacific Ocean are introduced below. But in between these few sentences and those introductions, I want to give you just a little glimpse into how that partnership actually looks and feels. Right below this text is a video of a product development/problem-solving conversation between (starting on the left) my main collaborator Agus, me, my son Julian, and the head of the fabrication workshop we use - Kadek. It's hard to hear the conversation in this video because of the sounds of metal work and production going on in the background. And what you can hear is mostly in Indonesian anyway, so most of you won't understand it. The reason I include it here is because it will help you to visualize, even if just a little, some of our process.
Agus, Laura, Julian & Kadek working on the JUL collection of metal clasps during the summer of 2018
Laura Bellows -- Designer & Owner of JUL
I was trained as an anthropologist at the University of Virginia. I earned my PhD in cultural anthropology in 2003 based on two years of field research in Bali, Indonesia. Click here to see a website aimed at a lay audience for which I provided images and text aimed at making Balinese cultural life more accessible. This website was part of an exhibition of Balinese paintings and sculpture that I conceptualized and curated with Emeritus Professor Clark Cunningham at the Spurlock Museum during a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
My research-adventure in Bali allowed me to develop relationships with the people and the culture that were essential for my founding of JUL in 2007 and which remain so to the present day. My son Julian, who has accompanied me on nearly all of my overseas travels (starting at age one and a half!) and counts Bali as his second home, first designed for JUL when he was still in middle school. Now 24 and a recent graduate from art school, his contribution to new design-development continues to be important.
Agus Astradhi--Designer and Co-Owner of JUL
Agus Astradhi was trained at the Arts University in Bali as a painter and designer. Upon graduation he created jewelry designs for the world famous Balinese jewelry company Suarti. He worked as a free-lance jewelry designer and graphic artist before joining me to found JUL in 2007.
Artisans in Indonesia
We work with skilled metal and wood-workers in Indonesia. We give them our custom designs for execution and then work closely and collaboratively to develop these pieces into JUL products. The artisans we work with establish their own prices for each piece we contract with them to make. We do not try to bargain their prices lower. We consider our artisans to be creative partners as we frequently ask them to make designs that are very different those they receive from other clients. Because our designs are unconventional compared to the other designers they work with, their willingness to develop creative solutions with us, and to experiment and innovate is an important factor in our working relationship. Not all artisans are interested in learning something new and working in such a collaborative and dialogic manner. We have developed these relationships of mutual understanding and creative partnership over the course of the past decade.