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Charley Owen Younge, The Netherlands

(1941 - 2015)

Charley Younge was an enthusiastic promoter and advocate for bamboo, and a successful innovator for branding bamboo as a modern material.

He was born September 23rd 1941 in Sekatoe, Java, Indonesia, where he lived until his family moved to The Netherlands in 1958. He attended Pedagogical College in Hilversum, The Netherlands, from 1965-1969 he studied the Dutch language.

For over 20 years, he was a teacher in Amsterdam, caring for children with learning and behavioral difficulties.

The success story of bamboo in Europe is closely linked to Charley’s formation of the Bamboe Informatiecentrum Nederland (BIC) [www.bamboe-ic.nl] in the late 1980’s in the small village of Schellinkhout, where his family moved after Amsterdam. He set up a bamboo nursery and bamboo show garden specializing in hardy bamboos suitable for the northern European climate. In 1992 the existing bamboo collection in Schellinkhout was supplemented with the bamboos of the Station for the Nursery in Boskoop, and later, The National Reference Collection was created in Schellinkhout.

Charley attended the international bamboo workshop in Chiangmai, Thailand sponsored by INBAR in November, 1991 Charley learnt about the various possibilities of ‘flat’ bamboo material, like bamboo flooring. He promptly traveled to China to find the source of these products together with his good friends Michel Abadie and Bob Caso.

In 1993 Charley Younge started to sell bamboo flooring under the European trademark of PLYBOO® which he enthusiastically developed and marketed. It was one year earlier that the first bamboo flooring in Europe had been laid in the home of the Younge family in Schellinkhout, The Netherlands. That original floor still exists today with the family’s complete satisfaction. Nowadays the Bamboo Information Centre develops and sells decoration products in direct collaboration with the leading production companies in Asia for the tastes and demands of the western society, as well as maintains a magical bamboo garden and the selling of live bamboo plants for people longing to bring bamboo and its mystic into their European gardens.

Through the years Charley held many lectures and organized exhibitions to make people aware about the almost infinite possibilities to use bamboo in numerous situations. He was very instrumental in the formation of the European Bamboo Society – The Netherlands.

Charley was passionately engaged with bamboo, and his zest earned him a reputation worldwide for his knowledge about the bamboo plant and its development as an alternative to wood.

Charley was - in his heart and in his soul - a World Bamboo Pioneer.