In 2006 we were inspired to revive the tradition of manufacturing cement tiles. At that time in Indonesia the first ceramic tiles were being imported from China and the cement tile producers were finding themselves without orders. The cement tile industry was becoming history. No one was producing cement tiles anymore, and we knew that the craft would likely disappear. So, we started to collect old cement tiles with the hope of preserving the art form. Along the way we discovered an antique shop in south Bali where the owner was selling used cement tiles.
We expressed to him our love for the tiles and were happy to learn he shared our enthusiasm. He told us he would like to sell “new” cement tiles if there was a place that still produced them. This inspired us to explore further. We started to collect information, found cement tile producers who were no longer making tiles and talked with them about the process and our ideas. Mostly, they were uninterested and tried to change our mind by explaining that there were no more customers interested in cement tiles; ceramic tiles had taken over the market.
Even so we decided to follow our hearts. We loved the cement tiles so much we knew there had to be more people who would see the same beauty we did. We purchased two press machines from an old tile producer who felt guilty accepting our money for what he believed was a dying business. We were taught the process by an experienced tile maker from Selat, and in 2005 produced our first ever cement tile order for some friends for the cost of materials only.
As we practiced working with the traditional colors we also began to experiment with making new colors. At that time the industry was only using 6 basic colors: yellow, green, red, blue, black and white. Through mixing we developed our own pallet of 60 unique colors, many of which we’re still using today. Our colors range from pure white to stark black, bright yellow to luscious red. Our mentor was pleasantly surprised and impressed when we started to create samples with these colors.
We continued to create designs with the molds we had purchased from the former tile producers. Once we had a nice collection we brought them back to the antique shop and began to promote ourselves as a business. In the beginning we focused on the classic, traditional patterns. These were developed from purchased molds as well as reproductions from patterns we’d seen in old buildings here in Bali. However, we soon realized the potential in combining the traditional materials with more contemporary designs. So we launched our own set of original Sadus Tiles designs in molds and received a positive response.
As we built our business many people asked why we weren’t locating ourselves closer to Denpasar. As it is the capital city most businesses choose to situate themselves in or near there. We explained that many young Balinese living in smaller villages had to travel or move to Denpasar and other tourist areas for work. This makes it difficult for them to fulfill their family and religious duties, as well as keeping them from their social circles. This was the main reason we chose to locate our business in Wayan’s hometown of Sidemen, to create jobs for the locals in their own community. We started with just two employees (who are still working for us today) and have now grown to 28 full-time staff.
After ten years of business we are still evolving. We are excited to have begun construction on our new factory here in Sidemen and hope to have it up and running by July 2016. This move will enable more productivity and flexibility for our employees. Men and women will have their own separate lockers and showers, and eventually an on site kitchen and eating area; amenities we simply don’t have space for at our current location. Designed to embrace and enhance its natural surroundings the factory features a flat garden roof, traditional bamboo walls and complete open-air flow. Along with being more efficient the factory itself creates a pleasant work environment for our staff and an aesthetically pleasuring structure within the community.