John Hardy: The Conscious Jeweller

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In a world where corporate companies focus on staying in control and practice self-preservation beyond the cares of the customer, it’s always refreshing to stumble across businesses, no matter how big or small, who are defiant in their consistency of transparency, sustainability and the concerns of the collective consciousness.

Retail is detail. Detail in production, and detail on the financial spreadsheet. We’ve seen many companies compromise their integrity to stay in the game financially, ridding their balance books of credible staff and creative geniuses…but not this company. John Hardy.

Beyond exceptional designs and well thought out strategy to reach the inner soul of those who wear the brand, John Hardy has perhaps, a small secret that many may not know about. From the consumers’ perspective, we will view the skulls and the silversmith’s craft as aesthetically pleasing, but look behind the scenes and you’ll see something that is more powerful; a company and a man’s responsibility to a people, and a planet.

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“Greener Every Day” is a company slogan used to summarize and describe John Hardy’s efforts to be a “green” company. In 2006, John Hardy launched its “Sustainable Advertising” program to offset the carbon emissions from its print advertising, business travel and electricity consumption. It does so by planting bamboo on Bali and Nusa Penida, a small island off the coast of Bali. Through its “Wear Bamboo, Plant Bamboo” program, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of its Bamboo collection items are used to fund the company’s continuous bamboo plantings. As of August 2012, the company uses 100% recycled silver in all designs.

Much more than designer jewelry – the company, John Hardy, keeps a culture and a past alive through beautiful storytelling via its jewelry designs. The founder transformed this small Balinese business into a global design company whose designs can now be found in the world’s finest stores. Drawing inspiration from the local artisans and the lush tropical landscape that surrounds the extraordinary open air longhouse and verdant terraced gardens, John’s original vision and approach to his creative work and domestic lifestyle will always remain organic and luxurious. His passion is a primitive minimalism.

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Head Designer and Creative Director, Guy Bedarida now runs the vision, strategy and designs in the business. MenStylePower interviewed Guy on a few lighter notes of his role and we found a man of great conscience, perfected discipline and immaculate designs.

How much time, per day, do you design or research?

It really depends on my schedule. For inspiration, I will always find time to travel to places to experience the cultures of the local people. If time permits, I will get my team to travel with me. That’s where we work together with the designs. Everyday, I spent at least 4-5 hours in the morning with my design team so that we go through all our sketches.  In the afternoon, I will have meetings to go through with my wax carvers and goldsmiths to look at our designs. Tedious process but I thoroughly enjoy my time spending with my team.

Before you begin to design, do you have any pre-game rituals or practices?

Not really, I only like to swim in the morning if I can or carrying out a gym workout. Health is very important for me as it keeps me fresh and focused.

What’s your best advice for overcoming procrastination?

I will always finish it.

Define creativity

Creativity is synonymous of authenticity. Something created based on pure inspiration, which brings new, fresh and different ideas.

Who are your favourite designers?

I don’t think I have a favourite designer. It all depends on the style and the quality of the product that I am looking at that moment.

Why is sustainability so important to our fashion businesses now?

Sustainability has always been important to me. I am glad that many fashion businesses are taking a more important role playing their part. When I first joined John Hardy, it has always been part of the corporate culture to be green and help to preserve what we have. After all, we are living on the same planet and with increasing population; our common sense will tell us that we cannot carry on wasting our resources.  In our company, being sustainable is a continuous journey and every effort counts.

What is your male archetype?

Male archetype is chic yet casual, unpretentious and sporty and not based on color of skin or race.

Share your best loved collections.

Every collection I have created is all my true love. But for inspiration, I would like to share the Classic Chain collection. The classic chain, 100% handmade, is really inspired by the Balinese culture of “Gotong Royong” meaning working together. To create a chain, it takes hours of handcrafted techniques from our artisans to work together from weaving the chains link by link to the polishing of the final product. Naga is also another inspiration which I take pride in to bring to life of the Balinese mythical dragon. With the belief that the Naga would bring eternal love, prosperity and protection, I am able to create this collection and help to spread and share the goodwill of the Naga to different parts of the world.

Do you prefer a particular type of music (or silence) when you design?

When I design, I listened to classical or Brazilian music.  It helps me to focus on my design and the melody of this music is inspiring.

Who or what is your “Muse” at the moment?

My muse is always the man and woman who is knowledgeable, a globe trotter that is not afraid to try anything new and always looking out for a new adventure, wearing our John Hardy collection.

How do you relax at the end of a hard day?

During the end of the day, I would like to invite close friends to my house for dinner. I love to entertain and meet new people as they can bring along their friends.

Who (or what) has been your greatest teacher?

In my first professional experience in Place Vendome in Paris, I was the assistant for the old gentleman in charge of special orders for VIP who has been working in the same company for 45 years. He taught me everything from sketching, colouring, gemology and techniques, while I was working next to him for 8 years.

What’s your biggest aggravation or pet peeve at the moment?

The greed of humans, being in our era

Choose one designer, living or dead, that you would like to have dinner with.

Yves Saint Laurent in his house in Marrakech.

Do you have a motto, credo or general slogan that you live by?

Carpe diem – Seize the Day!

Can you offer any advice to designers that you might offer yourself, if you could go back in time and “do it all over?”

Do what you enjoy and if you enjoy what you are doing, you will do it well and you will become successful.

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