Los Luna Story
In 2012, Vanessa and her family moved to Bali to get back to the basics, to focus on family and give their children a cultural experience. Whilst in Bali the family flourished, and Vanessa was inspired by the life that surrounded them. Living on the south coast of Bali alongside rice paddies the whole family was immediately swept up in the lifestyle that is Bali.. Living outdoors, watching the sunrise and sunset, and a life fuelled by the luna phases. "The moon has such a cultural significance to the Indonesian people, and particularly in Bali, the moon is a mark of so many things. I realised that our happiness came from the authenticity of the life we were living… It’s this simple happiness that I wanted to bring back with me and share with other people.”
Bali has always been a favourite destination of Australians, we love it for the relaxed lifestyle, the people you meet - especially when we have the opportunity to live there as a local and be part of the community. "I have so much respect for artisans in Bali, in the area where we lived, we were amongst men and women using their trades to make beautiful pieces for everyday tasks - baskets, wooden carvings, fabrics, ceramics and ceremonial pieces. They would spend their days hand making pieces that they would swap or sell. After living amongst the locals for a year, life was simple and beautiful. My children were friends with their children, we became friends, and I was welcomed into homes. This is when I really began to understand the cultural significance of the art trade in Bali and surrounding Indonesia.”
Los Luna was inspired by life in Bali - the small things, like when the tide changes, the smell of incense of the offerings burning throughout the day, children flying kites in the street that they spent hours making. "You notice the simple things about life, maybe because you are not distracted by all the external ’noise’. You are paying attention to life, to the sun and the moon. Life in Bali is relaxed, the kids run around barefoot all day, we watch the sunrise and sunset every day, and the moon was a huge part of our life - it’s just so big! It filled the night. That’s where the name came from. It’s a little reminder of why I started Los Luna, and all the artisans that worked patiently with me over the past few years to bring Los Luna to life."
"It was by chance I met the artisans I work with today, just by exploring Indonesia, going off the beaten track with the kids, meeting people, and discovering the rituals of daily life. I found myself wanting to bring baskets, furniture, and beautiful old wooden wares into our home, and after a time I wanted to offer the same to other people too. Los Luna offers homewares that have been made with traditional crafts, and hold cultural significance."
"My favourite pieces are the ones that have a strong cultural meaning, like the traditional wooden cow bells, petrified wood stools and dishes that have been adapted to fit into our everyday life. The friendships you develop when you’re working and living in the same community make all the difference, it allowed me the privilege to ask for things to be made in a specific way, or with a special material, but still holding the cultural significance and unique talent of the artist".
"The Manggarai Cushions are made with fabric found in a little village in Flores in Eastern Indonesia. Traditionally, the fabric is ceremonial, used for special rituals, and passed down within the family. The material was in beautiful condition, although some pieces had holes and tears from a long life of use. Each piece had to be treated and restored. I wanted to retain the original beauty of the piece, part of it’s history and cultural significance, so there are still small holes and stitching that is a mark of it’s origins".
Vanessa makes an effort to form relationships with all of the Artisans she works with, visiting their home and meeting their family, who usually all live under the same roof. Vanessa works with Kadek, a very talented woman, to create the crochet pieces Los Luna offers. "Crochet is a beautiful art in Indonesia, most women are very talented at crochet and beading due to all the weaving they do on a daily basis for the various vessels they make. When I saw Kadek's workshop I knew she was the one that I wanted to make the crochet art for Los Luna. Wall-hangings, cushions, purses, and artisan baskets. Everything has been hand stitched and hand beaded by her. I sourced the wooden beads and shells featured on each design, and Kadek was also kind enough to allow me to use her collection so each piece has a little bit of history and her home in it, which I love, and I think people appreciate that."
"We worked together for about 2 years perfecting the designs and colours for Los Luna. The larger pieces, like wall hangings would take up to 4 weeks for her to make, after the design process. There was a lot of drawing and playing around with the colours of the fabrics which we had to re-dye with natural dyes because I knew exactly how I wanted each piece to look".
"I wanted to offer pieces that are timeless that people will love and keep in their homes for a long time. I wanted to give people a piece of Indonesia that I loved, the authenticity and beauty of the culture, the people and their skills".
Los Luna is about tradition, culture, and the beauty in authenticity. "Every piece is finished and of impeccable quality, but I like there to be the sign of hand stitching and hand painting that marks each piece as individual and unique. That is where the stories come from, and I believe this is what we look for when we bring something into our home, a story."
Returning to Australia, Vanessa has launched Los Luna on the Gold Coast where she is living with her family. And, because of the proximity, Vanessa is able to return every couple of months to maintain the relationships she built with the artisans she works with and to visit her Bali home, full of the pieces she collected over the course of her Los Luna journey. There is constant communication with her friends, both Indonesians and other Australians living in Bali, and someone is always happy to pop into the homes of the local artists and say hi and update Vanessa on her newest project, “Close contact is the only way we achieve the product we want - it’s a 24hr job. Of course there are pieces that haven’t worked out, sometimes my idea didn’t translate or the modality can’t be applied to certain materials, but you don’t know until you try, and this is a huge part of the process…. Things we thought would work sometimes don’t but often in the process we can create something else that is even better - That’s a nice surprise."