Based in Bali, Caroline Usher is an interior designer. Her firm, Ushers by Design, produces beautiful interiors and architecture in restaurants, bars, and hotels. Today, she shares her insider point of view on outdoor area design with the team at TUUCI.
When Ushers by Design’s commercial clients want to bring outdoor spaces to life, the studio always takes a page out of its book. Based in Bali, situated amongst lush and tropical greenery, is Caroline Usher’s one-of-a-kind studio. The building is north facing, letting the natural light filter beautifully through the surrounding flora. Off in the distance, the mountains and clouds are draped across the horizon. In a picturesque setting like this, the inspiration that comes from nature is constant.
The Ushers by Design property alone serves as an excellent example of how to create a unique customer experience for commercial clients through innovative design. At their studio, they have two adjoining properties with a garden and barbecue area that abuts the rice paddies. This outdoor oasis is perfect for creating a shaded environment that also acts functionally as shelter from the rain. A reclaimed ironwood deck spans the length of both properties and features a walkway with a seating area that includes umbrellas. The studio’s main building straddles interior and exterior spaces and showcases a show kitchen that the team utilizes for private events and soirées.
Additionally, Usher’s team planted a scenic garden inside with two Ketapang trees to serve as a lovely backdrop for their product photography needs. The canopy creates a sense of seclusion and intimacy, but the space is still open and welcoming. When they aren’t using it for photography, it’s a quiet spot for relaxing and entertaining.
The Usher philosophy is that outdoor area design, when executed well, allows spaces to flow seamlessly from interior to exterior while complimenting the natural elements. The highest priority for outdoor area design is creating a space where people feel comfortable and at home. When planned carefully, an outdoor area can be visually striking without sacrificing function or comfort. Ushers by Design focuses on ensuring that interior and exterior spaces are both attractive and multi-purpose.
For hospitality clients in Bali looking to make a lasting impression on customers, Ushers by Design’s team carefully manipulates the natural surroundings with thoughtfully placed lighting, shade structures, and furniture. Blending indoor and outdoor areas that are cohesive with the natural environments allows for new ways to appreciate nature with modern comfort in mind, creating memorable experiences that keep customers coming back.
Appropriate lighting is also essential, and all of their design projects consider lighting elements very carefully. For restaurant and hospitality clients, lighting can make or break the atmosphere for guests. Great lighting should blend effortlessly with the environment and feel natural to the naked eye. Caroline’s team considers several factors for lighting an exterior space; the direction a structure faces, surrounding foliage and trees, weather patterns, and the needs of the guests who will be enjoying it.
Caroline is known for creating stunning outdoor spaces for restaurants and hotels. To maintain this reputation, her team must continually be able to demonstrate that they can roll with the punches, swapping out furniture, shading, and lighting as needed and ensuring that all materials can withstand the elements. Regardless of how aesthetically pleasing the design of a space, they prioritize comfort and protection to keep their customers’ experience positive in any situation. Because of Bali’s location near the equator, they experience a warm and humid tropical climate throughout the whole year. The rainy season, which typically falls between October and March, calls for sturdy protection from the elements. Stable shade structures are crucial. They want clients to understand both the beauty and longevity of the products incorporated into their outdoor area designs. The only exterior products the team doesn’t utilize are heating devices, as they don’t experience temperatures cool enough to require space heating in southeast Asia.
Caroline’s team is very conscious of climate change and how it comes into play for clients. When designing for exterior environments, it’s vital that the products can last a long time. They don’t want to incorporate short-term materials, and longevity is everything.
Sustainable design work is a conversation that continues to broaden in the industry. To start, Ushers by Design uses reclaimed and recycled wood as often as possible. They source exterior-grade fabrics with much consideration for placement as well as usage. Frameworks for exterior furniture and umbrellas must be resilient and durable. For parasols, they like powder-coated aluminum for Sunbrellas and Batyline fabric for the shade material itself. They are taking on a big project in the outer islands of Indonesia, for example, and the work requires customized recycled tension membrane canopies. They are building in frameworks and textiles that are easy to maintain without harmful chemicals, which they never use or endorse. Thinking outside of the box to create sustainable exterior structures and care for them is good for the earth and a labor of love. The ever-changing landscape compels Ushers by Design to get creative.
In this tropical climate, outdoor comfort requires thorough protection from the possibility of rain and storms. Because many of their clients are in the commercial hospitality and food and beverage industries, the designers use quick-dry foams for all seating. Chairs and tables have to be comfortable and functional while amplifying the brand aesthetic. Outdoor area designs often incorporate automated retractable structures, anchored shade sail environments, automated and manual blind rain/shade systems, and, of course, umbrellas.
These award-winning designers appreciate TUUCI because of their high-quality shade structures that are entirely customizable, allowing commercial clients to create branded experiences without sacrificing quality or comfort. In addition to offering a large selection of fabric and finish options, TUUCI offers custom-branding, screen printing, and Pantone matching across a variety of fabric options. The ability to tie in branded elements keeps the company top of mind while putting the customer’s comfort and enjoyment first. When clients have a specific vision, TUUCI products provide design custom patterns for printing on textiles. Maintaining a cohesive and high-quality look and feel across a design project and being able to offer one-of-a-kind plans for hospitality and design clients allows outdoor area design to create a unique customer experience that compliments nature’s beauty.