With the summer heat finally upon us, now is the time to take a long hard look at our sensible European interiors and let in a little of that Latin flavour. Central America and the Caribbean can offer us pale folk a huge array of patterns and colours that will lift our moods, our floors and our furnishings. A combination of native and colonial pasts combined with a sense of invention, often from cash strapped necessity, gives the area its unique flavour.
Cuba’s colonial history creates a special fusion of Moorish tile design via Spain mixed up with Caribbean heat to create vivid encaustic cement tiled floors in dazzling colours. Handmade floor tiles aren’t as accessible as they once were – the price of labour having increased slightly since the 1870´s – but vinyl alternatives are available and simple colour combinations will make them more versatile in a modern setting
Across the gulf in Mexico’s sunny Acapulco, an anonymous 1950’s french tourist, sitting uncomfortably in a straight backed dining chair, beheld a hammock and had the bright idea of combining the two items. Behold! A design classic was born… True or not (no one knows), the Acapulco Chair has enjoyed enormous success and spawned thousands of imitators. The original chairs are still made in Mexico and utilize recycled PVC in their construction. Environmentally sound as well as delicious.
Typical of the whole region and a consequence of the economically disadvantaged status of many of the inhabitants, is an inventiveness with humble materials. Bold use of colour and a liberal attitude to paint combined with a desire to brighten one’s surroundings can create startling effects for not much money. A few such items in a subdued suburban semi will work wonders with your mood!
So paint your wheelie bin and buy a parrot. Mine’s a mojito!