I am often asked “what did you get?!” when I return from one of our trips, whether it was a sourcing / work trip for Meridian, or simply a run to a flea market either at home or on vacation. So I have decided to start a new series, “What I Brought Home,” that will show you a few things I purchased on my travels. These purchases will be a mix of things I bought for the Meridian collection, as well as items I bought for my own home or personal use.
First up: What I brought home from Indonesia! We traveled to Indonesia last summer. Most of my shopping occurred on the island of Bali, as it is known for its artisan, handmade traditional crafts.
After doing some preliminary research on Indonesian handiwork (you can read more about my process for shopping abroad here), my focus going in was on textiles and shell and feather crafts. After a few days in Bali, I quickly decided to realign my focus to solely hard goods, as it was difficult to source textile yardage in the location where we are staying. (It’s always critical to be adaptable on these trips, but often I find that to be the hardest part!) I was also very interested in staying true to the neutral roots of the Meridian collection, and – although beautiful – finding neutral textiles proved to be difficult!
With my sights set on neutral hued decorative objects, I was immediately drawn to the shell and feather crafts made on Bali in the style of indigenous ceremonial costumes traditionally worn by the people of Papua New Guinea. A particular family business caught my eye, as they focused on a hand-tied macrame base embellished with small white shells or feathers native to the area.
What Is Macrame?
Macrame is a form of textile fiber art that uses knots instead of woven or knitting techniques. It is a popular form of craft in Bali that references work by early sailors in the oceanic region. It is best known for its square knot style, and it has been used for many generations for things like furniture, basketry and hammocks.
What I Bought For the Meridian Collection
For the Meridian collection, I settled on a combination of pieces that can either be hung on a stand to decorate a bookshelf or table, or pieces that can be hung directly on the wall. I really love the texture of these Shell Collars, and that they use 100% natural materials. Through purchasing this handmade work, we are supporting a family-run business in Bali.
This collection also includes a few Juju Shields, which feature a hand-tied macrame base embellished with feathers. Their style references the Cameroonian Juju Hat, which is a ceremonial costume worn on a village chief’s head as a status symbol of prosperity and wealth. Although similar in style, these Juju Shields from Bali are a bit different. The circular shaped piece has a flat back, which makes it easier to hang than a traditional curved Juju Hat.
As a brand, Meridian is rooted in the neutrals and we firmly believe that it’s possible to have a bohemian or worldly style that is grounded in natural hues. (For more of our modern bohemian style, take a look at our Pinterest Board!) It was important to me to make sure everything we put together for this collection felt like it could live in a variety of settings, from a serious collector’s library to an airy beach house family room.
Wood Work in Indonesia
While shopping for Meridian, a few pieces of wood work caught my eye. Many of the pieces were especially huge (think life size elephant!) and I was torn about what I could bring home that wouldn’t require a freight liner traveling by ocean from across the world.
I settled on some small wood pieces in small quantities, including some lovely hand carved spoons. I spent almost an hour going through every spoon in these bowls to find the ones with the best wood tones and carved details.
These petite and pretty spoons are best used for jam, mustard or salt. Some are wider in the bowl (like the spoon below) and others are more slim.
What I Bought For Myself
It’s hard to go on a trip like this and not bring something home for myself! When on a sourcing trip, I often find something I love but there is only just a few of that item, or it’s one-of-a-kind. Depending on the product, that can be something for Meridian but often we need to make sure we have enough inventory – especially if it’s from a location that is difficult to order from again or return to in person.
That said, I ended up getting a few things for home and personal use, including a wooden bowl from the same family that made the wooden spoons for Meridian. I had wanted to get an antique dough bowl for a while, but I fell in love with the wood tones of these oblong shaped bowls, and it was just the right size to fit on my New York sized coffee table.
Here it is living on the coffee table in my living room.
I also ended up buying two small wooden masks on stands from the same family who made the Shell Collars, and a long strand of black beads from the family who made the Juju Shields.
I haven’t given the masks, which sit on metal stands, a permanent home yet, but they have made an appearance in a few Meridian promo shots.
The long strand of black beads gets moved around quite a bit in my apartment, but I love the way they look against this buffet chest in the dining area of my living room.
I also purchased a couple of beaded bracelets for myself (so hard to resist) and for gifts for my Meridian colleagues, as well as a batik sarong and a pretty blue fan.
Most of the shopping I did on this trip was in family owned stores and businesses, rather than in markets. Some countries are great for market shopping, but what I found in the markets tended to be mostly items for tourist consumption and nothing really intended for heirloom home use.
There were tons of fantastic baskets and basket bags that I passed over (and now I sort of regret it!), but I did purchase a couple of these Borneo style rice baskets that I haven’t decided what to do with yet.
Do you like to shop when you travel? Have you brought anything home that you love?