Something about a map that has detailed artistry and exotic allure. It tells an aerial pictorial story of some part of the planet. Ocean maps are often the most enchanting with their sinuous coastlines and patterns of inlets and isles.
Naturally, maps of the Maldives are bursting with this adventurous charm. Huawalhi has a employed one of the more antiquarian depictions of the “Laquedives” as a design highlight in its villas. Blotter, cases, lampshades, etc. use segments of these ancient charts. Very reminiscent of one of our favourite designers, Alviero Martini’s “1ª Classe’ line of fashion and accessories.
One resort that is always dressed in traditional Maldivian garb is AaaVeee. The entire resort is not just inspired by local Maldivian design, but most of the infrastructure was produced in the Maldives itself. In fact, a good number of things like chairs and tables were made on the island by Maldivians using materials from the island itself.
Perhaps the most “Maldivian” aspect is the ubiquitous “koari” adornments. “Koari” means “cone” and is a traditional form of decoration found on the islands. It is a cone made out of palm thatch placed atop a tall pole. I’ve already posted about the koari used to mark the navigation channel to the resort, but it is also used at the reception jetty (see above), in the lagoon (directly below) and various other places across the island. The resort’s chef even baked a “Koari Kake” (below).
Even its distinctive floating furniture add to the dangling design vibe of the resort. Lots of resorts have swings, but Cocoon has them in places I’ve never seen before like the reception (see above, great for soothing the sadness of saying goodbye when waiting for your return transfer), and the bathroom (see below, not sure what this is great for…maybe to help get things moving??).
While bottles are standard décor for a bar, traditionally arranged across long, mirrored shelved behind the bar, Hurawalhi’s Tattinger Champagne bar is the first time I’ve seen cork as the theme of the décor. The drinks table look like corks Stewart Little would have in his lounge. And, the bar stools were particular inspired with the stool legs made to look like muselets.
While the waters surrounding the Maldives islands are a tapestry of aquatic beauty, they can often be marred by the necessary accessories of practical infrastructure like shallow water warnings and channel makers. But at AaaVeee, stylish “koari” plot the channel into the resort with a rustic and native aesthetic that hits you before you have even stepped foot on shore.
It’s not surprising that an island like Kandima that invests so heavily in the arts, also exudes its own striking aesthetic vibe. And the cornerstone of the Maldives colour palette is blue. The moment you walk into reception, you are struck by the dazzling blue reception desk. A cavalcade of azures that hit you the minute you get into Maldivian airspace. Kandima has splashed this tapestry of cerulean shades across its décor from rugs inside to tiled tables outside and a range of accessories and touches throughout. It’s not just the default colour, but the dominant one. Even less prominent spaces, like the fitness centre (photo below) are carefully decorated with blue hues.
QI of the Day: “Why do fish have stripes and spots?”
“To confuse and scare predators”
Actually, recent research by Kelly et al provides a range of counter evidence that the leading theories, ie. “Predator defence by mimicking predators’ enemies’ eyes, deflecting attacks or intimidating predators…Striped body patterns have been suggested to serve for both social communication and predator defence.”). These hypothesis are contradicted by a range of data and observations. For example, “Contrary to our expectations, spots and eyespots appeared relatively recently in butterflyfish evolution and are highly evolutionarily labile, suggesting that they are unlikely to have played an important part in the evolutionary history of the group.”
And why does the Cocoon resort have a trompe l’oeil shadow on the wall of a wrought iron grille as if the sun was shining through some window on the Riviera? Just for a bit of aesthetic whimsy (maybe that is an explanation for reef fish too). Even more mysterious is how the shadow is created as there is absolutely nothing on the villa windows except what appears to be clear glass. It’s a bit more design wizardry from the resort…floating furniture, shadows of invisible things – it’s like staying a Hogwarts. Magic all over the resort from the reef to the rooms.
Cocoon’s resident artists are the guests themselves. The villa rooms feature superb framed photographs taken around the island. It turns out that they are snaps taken by guest during their stay and posted on Instagram. Cocoon identifies the best ones (sort of the same spirit of how I curate the “Fashion” series here). The resort contacts the Instagramming guest and requests permission and includes a credit to their feed on the photo itself. New pictures are posted to the walls every six months.
At Cocoon Maldives, over-sized flamingos and indolent marine life aren’t only things floating around. The resort has infused the buoyancy of the surrounding waters throughout the property with furnishing that themselves seem to float like puppy black-tips skimming the surface.
- “The LAGO furniture floats on glass stands to highlight the lightness sensation that the Ocean water villa exudes, on the boundaries between the beach and the forest.”
Examples include bar tables, coffee tables, settees but most prominently the beds which have soft lights underneath them which amplify the illusion at night. A new meaning to the phrase “drift to sleep”.
“God is in the details.” – Anonyous
Another wall cover, though this one is at the smaller end of the size spectrum. One of the things I enjoy celebrating in the “Best of the Maldives” series is the array of little touches that make a property distinctive. A great example is Soneva Fushi’s electrics cover.
When you renovate or build a house, you quickly figure out that the biggest costs can be in the finishes. Depending on your taste for elegance and quality, simple fixtures like knobs, trim, fixtures and even light switches can get very pricey. They are like mini pieces of art with which you interact every day. And when you need bunches of them across the building, the costs really add up. I loved Soneva’s approach which was not only in keeping with its all natural design, but also put their money into local carpentry rather than importing some extravagant Swedish designs.