Columbus’s quest to discover a western trade route to the exotic spice ports in the East Indies, led to the discovery of tropical islands in the Caribbean that became known as the West Indies. Despite the variety of architectural and design influences from Europe, there are several indigenous design elements that are iconic to these islands.
Woven cane and rattan furnishings were airy and light in this humid, tropical environment. Gauzy fabrics, sun-baked colors, and louvered shutters were hallmarks. Heavy woods, like Mahogany, held up well in the tropics, and rich dark finishes were common. Islanders used tropical motifs in their furniture carvings – palm fronds, pineapples, and other island flora.
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