Tropical Inspiration: The Glossy Banana Leaf & The Striking “Martinique” & “Braziliance” Pattern

Striking Tropical Leaves:  The Banana Tree
Striking Tropical Leaves: The Banana Tree

The striking appeal of the tropical banana leaf endures to inspire within the interior. The airy, tropical feel that is presented with the long, glossy leaves of voluminous and graceful appeal endure to present an visual appeal within our interior worlds…

The Banana “Tree” is a fast growing, herbaceous perennial arising from underground rhizomes. A member of the genus Musa (part of the family Musaceae) it is believed that there are almost one thousand varieties! Imagine! Believed to have originated within the jungles of Southeast Asia, bananas are thought by some horticulturists to have been one of the first fruits of the earth. Who knew? The fleshy stalks of these glossy green plants are formed by upright layers of leaf sheaths that constitute as functional “false” trunks, which produce the leaves. The true stem begins underground, growing upward and pushing its way out through the center. The glorious plant of nature arises to grace our world with its decorative and tropical appeal.

The Banana Leaf:  Glossy, Striking Appeal
The Banana Leaf: Glossy, Striking Appeal

For those fortunate to live in a warm climate that can grow this tropical delight outdoors, how lovely! Yet it is the indoor banana plant (Musa Oriana) that many of us must rely upon to provide us with the tropical surrounds it offers. Consider indoor, towering ornamentals of non-fruit bearing banana “trees” or dwarf varieties (Musa Ornata) that add the appeal of the tropics. Although these plants still require warm temperatures perhaps relocating these potted delights to the great outdoors within Summer’s warmth will assist in a thriving tropical beauty when brought back within the interior at Summer’s end. For certain, after the leaves wave in the last of the Summer breezes, consider the beauty of the banana leaf within the interior. Pure tropical delight, indeed. An appreciation of the tropical plant and its iconic artistic patterns follows…

One cannot pay tribute to this glossy and stunning large tropical leaf without acknowledging the iconic patterns created by the artistic minds of two designers: Don Loper & Dorothy Draper.

First, Don Loper’s iconic “Martinique” printed wallpaper that graced the walls of the Beverly Hills Hotel in 1942. Don Loper (April 1906-November 1972) was “an American costume and necktie designer, screenwriter, choreographer, associate producer, actor and an assistant to MGM musicals producer Arthur Freed. His talents varied, his creation of this distinctive pattern endures to carry his name onward. Considered one of the most recognizable patterns in the world, the original “Martinique” Banana Leaf paper was hued in colors of burgundy, muted green & deep mustards with a hint of brown. A timeless, bold and exaggerated pattern of distinction that has rightly earned its place as one of the most iconic wallpapers within the history of the 20th century. Timeless, for certain.

Decorator Don Loper & His Original "Martinique Banana Leaf Wallpaper"/Beverly Hills Hotel 1942
Decorator Don Loper & His Original “Martinique Banana Leaf Wallpaper”/Beverly Hills Hotel/ 1942
Decorator, Dorothy Draper's "Braziliance Palm" Wallpaper/Greenbrier Hotel, West Virginia/1940's
Decorator, Dorothy Draper’s “Braziliance Palm” Wallpaper/Greenbrier Hotel, West Virginia/1946

Secondly, the tropical gift of Dorothy Draper (November1889-March 1969). Draper is considered a “pioneer in interior design, dominating the field from 1925 to 1960 when she was named the most influential tastemaker in America”. Draper, known as high-society interior designer, was hired to refurbish and renovate the Greenbrier Hotel & resort in West Virginia in 1946. Used as a hospital during World War II, Draper would transform the grand hotel with “a bold new personality, using color and oversized patterns that reflected “luxury and elegance”. Said to have been one of the largest redecoration project in the history of American hotel history at that time, Draper would refer to the hotel as the “Jewel” in her “Crown”. Alas, it is Draper’s “Braziliance Palm” that would provide a tropical appeal, as did Loper’s. Both unexpected, perhaps, and both fresh and daring papered distinction. The main difference between the two patterns, perhaps, lies in the color hues and the addition of Draper’s “Sea Grapes” or “Seagrapes” (Coccoloba Uvifera). “Sea grapes” are flowering plants native to tropical America, including Florida, the Caribbean and nearby islands. These “Seagrapes” paired with the bright, vibrant emerald green hue and black accents vs. the more muted palate of Loper’s with its brown hued accents. Both, equally striking and distinctive. Both enduringly timeless additions of tropical flair that have been repeated within interiors as papered walls, textiles and countless other layerings of style. Tropical inspiration that certainly never fades throughout time…

Leaves Of Style:  Banana Leaves
Leaves Of Style: Banana Leaves
Papered Style Of Tropical Appeal: Iconic Banana Leaf motifs
Papered Style Of Tropical Appeal: Iconic Banana Leaf motifs
Graceful Leaves Of Patterned Appeal:  The  Motif Of The Banana Leaf
Graceful Leaves Of Patterned Appeal: The Motif Of The Banana Leaf
Light & Airy Tropical Appeal:  The Banana Leaf
Light & Airy Tropical Appeal: The Banana Leaf
Events & Entertaining With Tropical Appeal:  The Banana Leaf & Its Motif
Events & Entertaining With Tropical Appeal: The Banana Leaf & Its Motif
Setting A "Tropical Mood":  The Appealing Banana Leaf
Setting A “Tropical Mood”: The Appealing Banana Leaf
Nature's Inspiration On Fashion:  The Influence Of The Classic Banana Leaf Pattern
Nature’s Inspiration On Fashion: The Influence Of The Classic Banana Leaf Pattern

Consider the beauty of the banana leaf. The bold pattern of distinction of the graceful banana leaf endures even in the realm of the fashionable world. Alas, although we may not adorn ourselves with the patterned appeal of the striking, iconic patterns of the “Martinique” or the “Braziliance Palm” , an appreciation of fashion’s influence by nature and pattern is at hand. Acknowledging the longstanding influence of artistry in fashion, indeed. And of the addition of the banana leaf at weddings and events? The glossy leaf of tropical appeal brings with it a memorable appeal of celebration. Tropical delight.

For certain, whether it is a variation of the plant that graces our interior or exterior worlds, textiles or papered appeal, the distinctive, broad leaves offer a tropical appeal that is certain to endure in delighting. Tropical inspiration of striking appeal, indeed…

Kristin

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