Asian influence pervades all aspects of contemporary Western culture — food, art, fashion, and children’s cartoons. More and more we see the growing popularity of Asian-inspired home décor with prints depicting white-crested waves and workers tending to rice fields. Drive down Huebner Road on the weekend, pull into a gas-station parking lot, and purchase a bonsai of your liking. Your neighborhood Walgreens even sells miniature bamboo plants, which leads me to the topic of this article – bamboo.
Bamboo has a long history, with evidence of its use in China for over 5,000 years, as a versatile resource used to make a variety of items including paper, food, buildings, and weapons. Today, artisans use bamboo to create baskets, furniture, mats, and traditional Asian musical instruments. It is just beginning to find its niche in San Antonio.
If you’d like to bring home some well-crafted Asia, we’ve discovered a gem of a purveyor in San Antonio. With the atmosphere of a foreign open-air market, Big Grass Bamboo invites furniture and home-décor shoppers to experience their beautifully stylish Asian-inspired furniture.
Owners John and Duang Hanesworth work closely with the Yospon family from Thailand who specifically use Buddha’s Belly bamboo, a distinctive strain of bamboo named for the manner in which it curves. The Yospon family has found success selling their artwork to businesses like Big Grass, helping them avoid immigration to bigger cities or foreign countries in order to make a living.
John and Duang met in Thailand while John was vacationing with a friend and have been married for nearly two years. Their main inspirations for opening Big Grass Bamboo are preservation of the environment and diversifying San Antonio’s culture. “Bamboo keeps its integrity after being made into the final product – you still know it’s bamboo, whereas wood loses its uniqueness in the construction process,” says John, who was interested in bamboo from an early age.
Big Grass Bamboo offers a wide variety of indoor and outdoor furnishings, including kitchen sets, lawn chairs, bedroom sets, gazebos, and bar sets. Wall hangings adorned with bamboo and can be found, as well as tranquil fountains constructed from bamboo and ceramic. Big Grass carries a varied selection of bedding to pair with bed sets, and seat cushions for lawn chairs, benches, and table chairs. A one-stop shop for all things bamboo, this emporium offers a fine selection of bamboo floor tiles in many different colors and patterns. Along with goodies for your home, authentic Thai clothes hang in the back corner, waiting to seduce fashion-savvy visitors.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, Duang, a native of Thailand, offered me tea and informed me that all bamboo products sold at Big Grass Bamboo are environmentally friendly. Unlike trees that die when cut, bamboo is a highly sustainable resource that grows much faster than trees, and often creates more affordable merchandise. Rather than paying a manufacturer, Big Grass works with families in Mexico, Thailand, and Vietnam that grow, harvest, and craft bamboo into all sorts of artistic and functional creations. Not only is the middleman eliminated, generations of traditional craftsmanship are
For John and Duang, their store serves as an educational tool to relate the culture of Thailand and greater Asia to their visitors and John is optimistic about the positive response the business has received. Their plea to San Antonians is to support small businesses like theirs that promote a sustainable lifestyle. •
Big Grass Bamboo
637 W. Hildebrand