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.
Kandima not only has a distinctive horizontal surface, it also boasts one of the most striking vertical surfaces in the Maldives (in fact, you can also see one of the walls behind the table in yesterday’s post). Such hanging gardens are as wonder-ful now as they were in times of Babylon. Last spring, we visited Singapore who’s signature attraction are such gardens draped over giant palm tree shaped frames and illuminated at night with colourful lights set to music. That’s taking natural materials and green design to an entirely new level (well, at least the second floor). Thanks Paola.
The traditional anniversary gift for 9 years is pottery. Actually, I received this “gift” of a post scoop from leading contributor Paola a while back. She spotted it at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu and wrote, ““The ashtray is carved in a kind of faux-stone. This way the ashes are protected from the wind.” It also has sort of a Flintstones caveman-chic vibe about it. Twelve shopping days to Christmas (not to be confused with the “Twelve Days of Christmas”) so also a possible gift inspiration.
Black Friday and the American Christmas shopping season has started. Thanksgiving yesterday serves as sort of a starting pistol for the Yankee yuletide season. While there are plenty of impatient transgressions, it’s generally considered a bit of poor form to decorate, play carols or otherwise engage in Krimbo merriment until after sleeping off an excess of poultry consumption.
EVERYONE comes home for Thanksgiving. More so than for Christmas. Hence the term “Homecoming” (as in “Homecoming Queen”) which is the big, local school football game where everyone gathers to see friends who have also returned and to build up an appetite while the turkey is cooking at home. As a result, the Friday after (Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday) is nearly always taken off from work. So you have a house full of relatives and a day off. What to do that everyone will enjoy? A trip to the Mall to start Christmas shopping! Also, it’s helpful that everyone is around to help find things everyone wants, check sizing, etc. Hence the near hallowed tradition of “Black Friday” emerged as savvy stores scrambled to grab as much of this early spend from the Christmas fund as possible. Their promotions and marketing just stoked the mania even further till you get the consumer madness we see today.
If you are looking for a present for me, one of the nicest items we saw this summer was Finolhu’s signature ice bucket with a powder blue explorer-chic design. It evokes Alviero Martini’s “Premiere Classe” fashion line (that Lori and I have several pieces of). The resort also features tissue boxes, toiletry boxes and other items and amenities, but the ice bucket is for sale at the shake shack for $200. Dear Santa…
I’ve always wondered why the Maldives resorts didn’t use more Maldivian artists for room décor. I’ve come across so many impressive talents in my decades of Maldives visits. Their renditions of the Maldivian vignettes are as personal as they are authentic. But my favourite of all resort artwork are the commissioned room paintings for the Summer Island resort revamp.
When I entered my the first room on my resort tour this July, I was stunned by the abstract painting over the bed (see below). It had captured the paradise parfait of colour that define the vistas from any point on any island. White sand, turquoise lagoon, azure ocean, green island, robin’s egg blue sky. This distinctive striation inspired my own graphic design in the header to this blog (see top of page). Also, you can see it in the header picture of the Maldives Complete Facebook page.
Every room has its own unique piece. And the “Do Not Disturb” signs for the door were similar crafted. All the work was done by an in house artist.
Mastery in the master bedrooms.
Hug a Sheep Day today! Aka “I love ewe” day for all ovinophiles If you hadn’t herd, Finolhu has adopted the fluffy cloven-hoofed ruminants as their resort mascot in a nod to their location in the eponymous Baa Atoll (or should be say “Baaaaaa Atoll”). Various woolly figures are found all over the island (see photos). So maybe skip the lamb curry today out of respect.
- “What an artist is trying to do for people is bring them closer to something, because of course art is about sharing. You wouldn’t be an artist unless you wanted to share an experience, a thought.” – David Hockney
At most resorts, the staff give at bit of themselves every day to make the visit by the guests memorable and distinctive. At Amilla Fushi, this investment is expressed indelibly in a unique exhibition of creativity and personality.
The Mystique Garden is a chef’s garden where you can enjoy special meals prepared and served for you al fresco. But your nook is more than the lush greenery of an equatorial paradise. It accented by a collection of striking art works suspended in the tropical canopy. These pieces are the works and gifts of the resort staff themselves.
When the property was near completion and the new team of staff being assembled, the management got everyone together and presented them with a challenge to design and produce pieces of sculpture to adorn the Mystique Garden. The resort provided any tools and materials that they needed. The staff were assembled into department teams as the project was a way to bring the group close together prior to the opening with a focus on thrilling the impeding guests with something out of the ordinary. The teams worked for over a month and the top pieces were selected for inclusion in this open air gallery. The pieces featured and the teams that created them are…
- Chandelier by Management
- Morovian Star by Engineering
- Peace Sign by the Spa
- Dodecahedron by the Front Office
- Silver Mobile by Recreation
I’ve been to lots of chef gardens in the Maldives (in fact, with this post, I am adding a new tag for them “Chef Garden”, but Amilla’s is a bit extra-magical, surrounded not just by the natural beauty of the location, but also by these inspired pieces which offer a personal welcome from the hearts, minds and souls of the resort team to their guests.