What does interior design in Calgary have in common with design in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India? A lot more than you might expect.
Tropical Home: Inspirational Design Ideas shows interiors adapted to the tropics, but still firmly linked to international design trends - and influencing them as well. British author Kim Inglis is a design writer and editor based in Singapore.
Despite the colourful cover, many rooms in the book feature a varied palette of browns with exotic accents. Chocolate brown is a favourite colour in Calgary. Frequently found in dark woods and leather on furniture, it brings cosy warmth to a room. In the tropical living room, the chocolate sofa is upholstered in tinalak, a linen-look fabric made from banana fibres. There it looks cool and inviting.
Woven banana leaf furniture can be found at IKEA and Pottery Barn. Now that it’s become mainstream, it’s easy to forget the source of the trend. Indeed, both “exotic style” and “Asian style” have been thoroughly popularized in the shelter magazines, blogs and books.
Tropical Home does not feel particularly exotic; just a book filled with good design ideas that are quite accessible locally.
A segment on contemporary ceramics highlights the long history of ceramic making in countries like India, China and South East Asia and shows their colourful contribution to contemporary decor. In Calgary, you can get the look, and feel righteous at the same time, by shopping at Ten Thousand Villages. Asian ceramics are ubiquitous in design shops.
The section on bathrooms will be inspirational for anyone trying to modernize a dowdy room. Modern fixtures mix with Asian antiques and accessories.
Architecture blurs the boundaries between inside and out and outside may be lush tropical landscape. Well OK, not Calgary, but check out the section on garden walkways on page 134 to find some hardscaping ideas that would be very effective in a local garden.
Perhaps my affection for the book is a last grasp (gasp?) at summer for this Labour Day weekend. But, I always love a book that surprises.