Cool Latin America

Known for its vibrant colours and patterns, Latin America is coming to the forefront of design trends, with a twist! Toned down and cooler than ever, vernacular typologies typical of Latin American countries have slowly making their way into our homes and into our hearts – and we might not even have noticed.

As you may know – or maybe not! – Latin America was colonised in the 1500s mainly by the Spanish and the Portuguese, which explains the Iberian / Mediterranean undertones that Europeans might notice. Added to the mix are the indigenous people, with an artisan touch, locally sourced materials and loads of texture. And, finally, there is the environment: the diversity of flora and fauna really influenced the way of living in the continent.

Here are 4 ways that you can add some latin flavour to your home:

1. Plants and nature everywhere

They are the star of the moment: plants are everywhere. With all that has happened in the past year, many of us incorporated plants into our interiors. Growing up back in Brazil though, plants have always been everywhere. My aunt used to have this amazing forest of ferns and they made her house so cool – in the temperature sense! – and welcoming, that I am really happy to see this trend gaining momentum.

A very green Brazilian interior.

This is possibly the easiest of trends to follow: you can’t have too many. But this trendy element doesn’t stop at live plants. Textiles and wall art of plants and animals are easy ways to add some coolness into your space too.

Plants, plants everywhere!
Plants in pots and on the wall.
Plants, prints and flowers ❤️

Shop the look: house plant shops are really popular at the moment, so for real plants, I recommend a visit to your local high street, where you can choose your plants in person, but if you’re not fortunate enough to have such treasures on your doorstep, here are some suggestions to your collection started.

Cosy Fox is an amazing little shop close to me, and the great thing is that they ship all over mainland UK. Sarah and her team are incredibly helpful and knowledgeable too, so if you have any questions, head over to their instagram account, where they are alway happy to help.

Now getting plants on a regular basis is your thing, my suggestion is the Bloombox Club, where you can subscribe and receive new plants every month, which is a great way of slowly building up your plant collection. Their blog is also full of tips on how to style your space, how to take care of your plants and great tips for wellbeing.

And for those of you who would like to spread the nature theme into your decor, there is no better resource than the Designers Guild. They have an amazing variety of cool fabrics, wallpapers and soft furnishing to match any home decor. Some of the Christian Lacroix designs fit beautifully with this trend!

Indian Sunflower Wallpaper, available from the Designers Guild
Christian Lacroix Birds Wallpaper, available from the Designers Guild

2. Natural // rustic materials

Fuelled by the drive for sustainable design, natural materials are steadily growing in popularity. Influenced by the native inhabitants of the Americas, rustic and natural fibres and wood have always been a part of the traditional decor in that continent.

Argentinian Home in Buenos Aires. The use of wood, baskets, willow and a rug over carpet make this space feel warm and inviting.

To follow this trend, invest in cotton, wool, basketry and all shades of wood. Layering textures and patterns will give your space warmth – the patterns don’t necessarily need to match, just find a common thread (no pun intended!) that links them, like a similar colour.

Patio styling with sheepskin and patterned cushions.
Layers and textures with a touch of Mexican style. The similar patterns and repeating colours links all these layers together, making it a fun and cohesive look.

Shop the look: this is a very strong trend at the moment, and it is showing no signs for going away – ever! You will probably find items to compose this look pretty much anywhere! Here are some examples.

ANYDAY rug, available from John Lewis – made from recycled cotton and available in 3 different sizes
This Oliver Bonas throw is called Hana and is also made from recycled cotton.
The Alseda stool, available from IKEA, is made from banana fibre and is a firm Instagram favourite.

3. Colourfulness

A trademark of the latin style, the colours come back in a less vibrant way. Evolving from the terracotta trend from a couple of years ago, oranges, yellows and other hues have just been brought back by an amazing collaboration between paint company Farrow & Ball and American designer Kelly Wearstler in a collection called California.

F&B’s California collection

Now, hear me out on this one! I know that technically California is not in Latin America, however it was in Mexico before it became an American state – see all the city names in Spanish! – and the architectural style bear many similarities with Latin American, either because of the Spanish/Mexican influence, or by the similar weather. Either way, when I saw those colours, the first thing that came to mind was Cartagena in Colombia. And then the historical area of Pelourinho in Brazil.

Cartagena de Indias – Colombia
Pelourinho – Salvador – Brazil

To achieve this look, all you need is some paint – but if you fancy the Farrow and Ball colours, you need to be quick as it is limited edition and only available through their website.

F&B Citrona

Alternatively, you can try one of the following:

A Cool Latin America inspired palette picked from the Deluxe Trade Fan Deck. For a truly matt finish, ask for it be mixed in Flat Matt Emulsion. 😉

4. Breeze blocks

Now this is a personal favourite and I have been watching its reemergence with joy over the last few years. Breeze blocks were allegedly invented in Brazil – there is a patent from the 1920s – and were inspired by arabic mashrabiyas: privacy screening that allows you to see outside without being seen, and protects you from the heat without blocking much wanted cool air from the inside.

Prominent Latin American architects Marcio Kogan and Frida Escobedo are fans of the material, having used them in the last decade.

Cobogo House – Marcio Kogan
La Tallera – Frida Escobedo

As well as a resurgence both in exterior and interiors, the privacy screening has also been reimagined in other materials such as wood and metal.

Wood screen in the style of breeze blocks
A kitchen island! 😱 Project by sw architects

Shop the look: the trend has not yet landed in the UK with the same bang that it has in America, and it is slightly harder to source breeze blocks here, but you can find a basic shape from B&Q and a great variety from Terracotta World.

Terracotta World

For screens, Screen with Envy has an enormous variety of shapes and colours, and can be use externally as well as in interiors – they do radiator covers too!

The mashrabiya pattern that first inspired the first Brazilian breeze blocks – these are from Screen with Envy

Unfortunately, as much as love it, the breeze blocks won’t be making an appearance in my house, as my husband absolutely hates them! I am still hoping for the metal versions to pop up in my garden at some point in the near future though.

How about you – which is your favourite aspect of Cool Latin America? Will you be adding some to your home? If you have a touch of latin in your space, tag us on instagram (@forma79id) so we can come and have a look!

Images: Brazilian House // Urban Jungle 01 // Urban Jungle 02 // Plants and Prints // Cosy Fox // Bloombox Club // Designers Guild // Designers Guild // Argentinian Home // Patio Styling // Mexican Style // JL rug // Oliver Bonas throw // Ikea Stool // Farrow & Ball // Cartagena // Pelourinho // Cobogó // Cobogó House // La Tallera // Wood screen // Kitchen island