If you’re interested in handmade pottery, stop in this charming Ubud boutique.
It's true, Wally and I have a shared fascination with folklore, history and handicrafts which ultimately drives most of our travel destinations, and is why we decided to stay in Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali. The island has a special energy all its own, but if you want to enjoy it and have only a few days, you may find that seeing everything you would like to on your itinerary is logistically impossible. However, one of the places I refused to cut was the Gaya Ceramic showroom.
The boutique is located on Jalan Raya, the main thoroughfare that passes through the center of Ubud, in the village of Sayan. If you’re hiring a taxi or driver, make sure to let them know that it’s not the smaller branch of the road, as our driver took us to the Ceramic Arts Center by mistake. While this educational division with classes, workshops and a residency program for artists from around the globe is certainly interesting, I wanted to see the goods for sale at the shop.
The duo behind the craft are husband and wife Marcello Massoni and Michela Foppiani. Both passionate creatives who caught the attention of Gaya Fusion's director, Stefano Grande. After meeting with Stefano, they made the decision to move from Italy to Bali and established Gaya Ceramic. It should come as no surprise then, that their aesthetic is the perfect union of Italian design and Balinese craftsmanship.
One of the first things we noticed when we arrived at the showroom were exotic, climbing vines with pale lavender blooms. The dense growth framed and partially concealed the façade, lending the exterior an air of curiosity, as if letting you know you’re about to enter somewhere enchanting.
Inside, a rich, jewel-tone malachite green tile covers the floors. The boutique contains an array of luxurious, refined hand-crafted objects. Gaya’s designs include sculptural porcelain and lava sand mortar and pestles, to more elaborate ceramic coral wall art, bowls, plates and one of my personal favorites, “tattoo” vases embellished with a deconstructed pattern of twining cobalt blue chinoiserie flowers, all handmade in Bali.
What’s most impressive, though, is the relationship Marcello and Michela have fostered within the village of Sayan, where the company is based. Villagers who have mastered the intensive hands-on apprenticeship program have gone on to become fully vested employees, ensuring that these skills live on for generations to come.
Every element, from the wireless radio — they even have a Spotify playlist — to the small circular clay tokens with their logo stamped into them that adorn their shopping bags, has been thoughtfully considered.
Visit their showroom and take your time to admire the beauty of each piece. And if your suitcase isn’t big enough, they ship.
Q&A with Marcello Massoni, owner of Gaya Ceramic
How has your cultural background been incorporated into Gaya?
We always put a bit of Italian flavor into our ceramics. The innovation and attention to detail that Italians are well known for is embedded in all our creations.
How has the culture of Bali influenced you?
Balinese culture helped us to reach a high level of craftsmanship and inspires us every day with its architecture, nature and ceremonies.
Tell about us your process. How does a lump of clay become a beautiful object?
All of our pieces begin their life in the studio. I still throw the original piece from which a prototype is made. For our hospitality projects, we custom create ceramic collections based on a client’s functional and aesthetic needs. We use different clays, glazes and diverse firing techniques (gas, raku, wood firings). All of our processes are handmade.
On average, how many pieces are produced per month?
Between 7,000 to 9,000.
Now for a few fun non-business related questions. What are a couple of your and Michela’s favorite local restaurants?
Where’s the best place to get a cup of coffee?
Favorite place to visit on Bali?
Pura Gunung Kawi or Geger Beach in Nusa Dua.
Best place to get gelato (and we know you’re biased)?
Gaya Gelato :)
Jalan Raya Satan No. 105
Bali, Indonesia 80571