Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tropical interior design for beachniks

Ive always found inspiration in the South Pacific when it came to thinking about the design of my home interior. While none of what I do adheres strictly to any particular formula I believe that it truly reflects who I am and the things that I enjoy. A home environment after all should be a place that says something about you and it should cocoon you in an atmosphere that embraces your lifestyle.

My ideas span many elements and points of reference. Firstly I was drawn to lodgings of servicemen in the South Pacific in WWII, basically Quonset huts or local crafted grass shacks that were adorned with trappings gleaned from the natives. This is especially true of colour where I searched out a particular shade of olive drab suggestive of the military but also a hue that lends a contemporary tropical air. Then as Ive always shared a passion for the decor of the Hawaiian islands I searched for years to locate many original vintage items from the 1930's and 1940's to decorate my environs.

Many of these items are vintage hula costumes, original grass skirts dyed with Attabrine, paper leis and the such. To me it was like creating a scene from James A Michener's 'Hawaii' or Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'South Pacific'.

Surrounding myself with elements of the natural world was also key in achieving the feel that I wanted and so I tracked down interesting pieces of coral, shells and rocks strewn on the local beaches where I live. One of my favourite items is a carved coral mask from Timor.

The concept of the tropical home is often bantered around the publications of home renovation magazines but as always the style research is mundane, shallow and homogenised. This is why you can ride the trend by planting a few palms and installing a Buddha statue. I guess this serves the multitudes sufficiently. Alas but thank god that I do not aspire to these things but draw inspiration from a deeper personal interest.

For visual reference try to think out of the square and do not be afraid to spend many many hours acquiring the feel you want. I drew on 30 years worth of National Geographic magazines as well as numerous books and publications. One particularly worthy of note was 'Under the Hula Moon', by Jocelyn Fujii and published by Crown publishers 1992. The other is the classic reference Taschen book, 'The Book of Tiki'. This is a great source but one that has also been plagiarised to death by kustom kulture Tiki Geeks the world over.

For an original look you must source this concept yourself and be prepared to do the hard groundwork of research.

If I'm really fortunate I may find some more elements to add to my decor and am presently seeking out some Puffer fish and perhaps a Saw fish bill.

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