Design Notes Archive

2015: Tropicália

2015: Tropicália

If you want to start 2015 out in a more relaxed state try embracing a bit of Tropicália, that 1960’s Brazilian movement that gave birth to songs like The Girl from Ipanema and later influenced celebrity haunts from coast to coast: Indochine, Bungalow 8, Mahiki…. These days London’s Chiltern Firehouse has taken over the torch and it truly is a slice of tropical paradise. Not only did design firm Studio Ko tap Soane to create a sweeping custom rattan bar, they’ve kitted out the lounge with faded floral cushions atop rattan furniture, chic pineapple table lamps and wicker pendants, all perched under a canopy of air purifying greenery.

The mood is echoed in Rizzoli’s dazzling new publication, Marella Agnelli: The Last Swan, a compendium of nearly a dozen of the 20th century socialite’s globe-spanning residences. Throughout its pages legendary photographers like Irving Penn, Richard Avedon and Horst capture Agnelli’s immaculate taste in homes across Italy plus New York, St. Moritz, Corsica and Marrakech. On point, she notoriously peppered each one with potted plants and wicker furniture, often from Vittorio Bonacina and designed by her long time collaborator Renzo Mongiardino. This bathroom, designed by Peter Marino in the 1970’s for Agnelli’s New York apartment, is a classic example of her timeless aesthetic.

Bring home a touch of tropical flair with Soane’s Broadway dressing table, handcrafted in Leicestershire from cane and woven rattan. Pair it with a Balineum washstand topped with an oxygenating plant and feel the winter blues fade away. There are several indoor varieties that thrive in low light and filter impurities out of the air to boot. Try a potted bamboo palm to combat benzene and trichloroethylene, common additives in toiletries like perfume and nail polish, or a snake plant to thwart formaldehyde which lurks in cleaning products, loo roll and countless cosmetics.

Photographs © Eric Boman