Interior trends are nothing new. People are always looking for inspiration from what’s new and fresh, but recently a number of styles have transcended the trend phase and become a permanent fixture. Millennial pink seemed to be the first thing that we couldn’t let go of, but now it appears greenery and embracing the outdoors have become the next thing we just won’t quit.

And while having living plants in your home is one thing, the trend as a whole is an entire architectural movement that goes further than a delicious monster in your living room. The design is called tropical modernism, and while we’re embracing it in 2018, it’s certainly not a new concept.

Geoffrey Manning Bawa was a Sri Lankan architect and was the first person to marry modern design with the environmental location that surrounded him while paying respect to the cultural and traditional connotations of that environment. As a result of his insight, Tropical Modernism emerged, demonstrating that surrounding cultural notions could dictate a certain architectural style.

Tropical Modernism is known for the melding of the outdoor and indoor space as one. It’s identified by wide open spaces, increased ventilation and using natural materials that are representative of the local community.

In our latest issue, dubbed the big ideas edition, we have tapped into the knowledge of design and decor experts for their advice on quick and impactful ways to update your home. Here we expand on that and ask these experts on how you can embrace tropical modernism.

Source: Fernando Guerra (Architizer)


Introduce elements of Tropical Modernism into your home by creating a shell of simple, white-painted walls and clean, polished cement floors. Use natural materials such as timber, bamboo and stone, where possible, and keep your palette within this range. Work with natural light, using screens and blinds as means to filter and diffuse it. Décor should be on the minimal side; look to simple repeat patterns and designs, and bring exotic flora indoors for a lush jungle effect.


We’re massive fans of plants at our studio. They add freshness and life to any room and are a much-needed source of natural sanctuary in the modern home – especially inner-city houses and apartments. Maximalism is in, so complement your foliage with bold patterns and go all out – create a jungle in your lounge or rainforest in the bathroom, why not?


One huge trend is to discover new and innovative ways to green up our homes. Fleshy succulents including cacti and aloe vera are favourites among millennial indoor gardeners, and the non-greened fingered among us, but fiddle leaf figs and hanging kokedamas remain popular too. Vibrant, patterned foliage with variegated, striped leaves adds life with a flash of colour.

If you’re unsure of how to best show off this greenery, set the plants within a very ‘Verdure’ palette –new for 2018 from Pantone – that features colours naturally found in lush vegetation and woodland. Think berry-infused purple,redwood, eggshell blue and foliage green. Plants not only look good, but can smell good, add a sculptural element or have a softening effect and foster wellness by absorbing harmful chemicals, reducing stress, regulating humidity, lowering sound pollution and helping us sleep better. What’s not to love?

Source: Maria Bergstrom; Serge Anton/Living Inside

For more big ideas on updating your space, make sure you pick up our March issue now!