Business partners and friends, Hasina and Marco, are building 3 villas in Pererenan. We sat down with them to find out about their projects and why they chose to build in Bali. You can follow their projects at Casa Tropis and Villa Zephyr Bali
Where are you from and what do you do?
(Marco) I’m a painter from Venice, Italy. I’ve been back in Bali for 5 months.
(Hasina) Madagascar, but I grew up in Paris. I lived in Europe, London, Singapore and moved to Bali 6 years ago. I’m an entrepreneur. I worked in different businesses, but mostly I’m interested in creative industries.
How did you meet?
(M) We met almost 2 years ago. We always had the same sort of vision for interior design.
What brought you to Bali?
(H) I came to Bali 6 years ago. I didn’t want to live in the city anymore. I’d been living in big cities. I wanted a community, to be close to nature and I found that simpler way of living that I wanted in Bali. There’s a much better quality of life.
(M) I worked for almost 20 years in a contemporary art gallery. But I was always moving, I lived in Berlin for about 10 years. I decided I needed something new. My friend recommended Bali for 2-3 months. I did a little research, but not too much. I just booked the flight, and as soon as I arrived, I knew I loved it! I wanted to start my new life here.
What do you love about Bali?
(M) The culture, the natural light, the people, the smells, the creativity.
(H ) I agree, also you can reinvent yourself here. I prefer my life here. I don’t want to be in a box, and I don’t have to do that here. You can do different things, you can wear different hats, you can learn more here. Bali is my home. There is no other place where I can imagine myself living.
Why did you decide to build in Bali?
(M) Because it’s challenging, and I like challenges. I like the process. As a painter, I always say that the best way is through the process.
(H) Because I lived in the area and I had built a café before, so I kind of knew what to expect. Through the journey of building it, I learnt so much.
I always loved Mediterranean style and design but you didn’t really see that in Bali a few years back. So when I had my first opportunity to build 2 years ago, I built a cafe in Canggu (now called Secret Spot) which had that Greek/Ibiza style and I really enjoyed the process of designing. I like the idea of building and leaving a bit of my design print around the areas that I love.
I wanted to do some more design projects and that was about the time that me and Marco met. We were talking about doing a project together. He’s sensitive to art and aesthetics.
Building for the second time, now, I’m less worried. The way I learnt the first time was not something I would recommend, so I learnt what not to do. In fact, I changed my team 3 times!
(M) And I had Hasina as a guide to help me!
Why build now?
(M) We found many many points in common and we knew we could help each other and be a good team.
(H) It wasn’t the right time when we first discussed doing it. However, this time when Marco came back, things aligned and there was a great opportunity to build so we jumped at it.
Just when the pandemic hit in March 2020, I went to Japan for 2 weeks but I got stuck there for 6 months. After I came back to Bali, Marco came back too and we decided to do a project together.
How did you find this land?
(H) For me, it’s always about the location. I look for places where I would like to live. I want a community. I want some nature. I want to be close to the action, but also have some quiet spaces
So I began looking. I was open to what I would discover. Maybe an empty piece of land, or maybe a property with potential I can renovate. I needed something affordable. I like to renovate so I can design a new home using the bones of the old one. And with this criteria, I found these properties.
Did you hire an architect to design the 3 houses?
(H) We do all the plans ourself, we do the 3D models ourself, because we are simply renovating existing buildings and the paperwork was already submitted by the landlord.
We are always very up front with landlord. We explained that we are going to add value to the building. The relationship side really matters to us. And the sense of community is one of the main aspects that both of us love so much about Bali. We have a good relationship with our landlord not only because we live next door, but also because we are thinking towards the future. We want to build beautiful houses, but most importantly, build beautiful connections and leave a legacy that we can be proud of for now and for the future generations to whom the houses will eventually go back to.
Did you design what you wanted first, or find the right land/old building first?
(H) Finding the building came first, then we designed around it.
(M) We wanted to find the beauty in the building.
How did you find your builder?
(M) We did a lot of research, over 3 months. I think we saw about 6-7 contractors.
(H) We compared, and of course we had a budget. From my experience before, I knew the price of some material. I knew the contractor would take a margin but I wanted to see how much they wanted to take.
We scheduled some meetings with contractors. We took them to the site, showed them what we wanted. They gave us a quote. We looked for a competitive quote, but also someone who we feel comfortable with.
We went with the one who wanted it the most. He was interested and excited in the project. Some builders, who were very experienced, maybe they weren’t as interested in our project. We wanted someone who has lots of experience but is also hungry.
(M) We also went and visited their previous work to see what they did and how does it look now. We knew it was important to see what they have already completed.
(H) But we also went a lot by faith. We wanted someone who felt good and trustworthy, and so far he has delivered.
(M) Hopefully, someone we can build a relationship with and work together in the future. We want to build more in the future. Honestly, we chose a young guy because he is keen to build his business. He can come up with creative solutions.
When did you start and how long will it take?
(M) We started about 6-8 weeks ago, and it should finish in 3-4 months, but we know it may take another month or 2 more
(H) I think the timeline is realistic because the structure is already there. We are not changing that too much. We need to add some beams but not too much.
How often do you visit the sites?
(M) In the beginning, it was a couple of times per week.
(H) Now it’s every day or every other day . We are excited to see how it transforms! We want to monitor what is happening.
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