Founder of surf clothing and accessory label Mambo, Dare Jennings has spent a lot of time in Bali. When he found a traditional property to live in, he asked Australian architect, Robert Weir, to re-invent it while also respecting its heritage. Full story in Habitus 01.
Text by Jane Burton Taylor
Photography by Carby Tuckwell
Jennings, who sold the mega-successful Mambo in 2000 and recently co-founded serious motorcycle shop, Deus Ex Machina, is well-accustomed to a challenge. In fact, given his track record, he seems to thrive on one, particularly when it is hooked up with one of his idiosyncratic passions.
His most recent venture in Bali has been just such an undertaking. It didn’t involve surfing or motorcycles directly. But it was sparked by the same kind of playful conviction he has about these two pastimes.
Sitting in his warehouse-style cafe in Sydney’s Inner West, bounded by glamorous prototypes of motorbikes, Jennings talks about how he was smitten by the Balinese property and spent the next couple of years making it his own.
He was visiting Bali, where he co-owned a house, when a friend suggested he should go and see a place that was for sale just back from the coast, in Pantai Brawa. It was a very unusual proposition.
“It was this most beautiful old teak house and the owner had this great sort of art style in the way he built things,” Jennings says. “I thought this is a chance to own a real wood house, made in the traditional way.”
Curiously, it wasn’t just one house that Jennings was buying, but rather a group of them. The previous owner had been a teak merchant and collector. He had brought objects and traditional structures, mainly rice barns and fishermen’s huts, from all over Indonesia and then rebuilt them on his block in Pantai Brawa.
“I thought there was something to learn from it. That is the thing about ageing,” the fifty-something Jennings muses. “You’ve got to keep learning, otherwise you just get bogged down in it.”