Tropical Aesthetic Exploration

The aesthetic I have chosen to discuss is tropical. I chose this aesthetic because I think that it captures a feeling of relaxation and fun that I enjoy. It is used very commonly in modern clothing and architecture, as well as art.  It is difficult to say exactly when the tropical aesthetic was created. I would argue that the original tropical aesthetic was developed by native people living in tropical climates. The picture below shows an example of a native building that I would consider part of the tropical aesthetic.

As western cultures started to interact with native tropical cultures I think that western culture started to bring in aspects of the tropical aesthetic. I think that the tropical aesthetic started to take its current form when these tropical locations became places that people visited for enjoyment. This shifted the tropical aesthetic from more of a cultural background to an aesthetic that meant vacation. Many places have tried to capitalize on this aesthetic and use it as a way to draw people to their location. For example, below is a picture of an advertisement for Miami. It uses the tropical aesthetic to make people who may live in different areas want to visit. The tropical aesthetic in my opinion is the most powerful for people who don’t live in warm areas because it allows for some imagination about a place far away from where you live.

Along with this, many of the other companies use the aesthetic to try to bring people to their products. For example popular clothing brand Tommy Bahama markets its products by emphasizing the relaxing tropical lifestyle. People commonly associate clothing like this with fun, a common party theme is “Hawaiian T-shirt” trying to capture the upbeat and leisurely nature of the tropical aesthetic. 

At the heart of the modern tropical aesthetic I think is a desire to capture an ideal lifestyle. I think that in the modern world people have become very caught up in a very fast paced contemporary lifestyle. The tropical aesthetic aims to represent a picture of an easy going lifestyle that many people wish that they could enjoy more often. Along with this the tropical lifestyle aims to capture the image of the perfect outdoor landscape for relaxation. Someone at work in a snow covered Minnesota office can hang up a tropical calendar to think about a time that they were on vacation in Hawaii and be able to forget about their problems. 

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5 Comments. Leave new

  • […] Often,tropical fans boast recognizable tropical shapes, like blades that look like giant palm leaves or lights with flower-blossom […]

  • Branden Tangney
    January 25, 2021 8:03 am

    This aesthetic is one of much importance in our daily lives and it is close to home as I am currently in Florida on a vacation. I wake up and look out my window to see palm tress swaying in the wind and the waves crashing against the sandy beach. I think you did a good job identifying that tropical aesthetics are more commonly found in warm climates, and clothing brands such a Tommy Bahama market towards these climates. However, I do wonder how colder climates like Boulder are able to market tropical aesthetics in clothes to people who don’t live in warm climates.

    • Andrew Thorson
      January 26, 2021 3:40 pm

      I agree with you that certain tropical products can be harder to market in colder areas. Contrasting this though I think that people in colder areas may specifically seek out these products if they are interested in them since they may not be as available in their area.

  • Hannah Moller
    January 24, 2021 9:55 pm

    I think it is great that you decided to explore the tropical aspects in design that we see today. This is something I think we will start to see more and more people lean to as this remote work at home continues to give people a reprieve from day to day life. This is partially seen now I think in the increase in people buying LED lights and putting them up in their rooms to change up their regular aesthetics to something that would remind them of going on a vacation. I am surprised you decided not to touch upon how people have started to move away from the bold print of tropical themes while still staying true to a subdued version the type of calm someone can feel in a resort. Do you think that it isn’t true to the tropic theme and that it is a different aesthetic altogether?

    • Andrew Thorson
      January 26, 2021 3:44 pm

      I think that a more subdued aesthetic can still fall within the tropical aesthetic. I think that the tropical aesthetic can shift from person to person and still remain true. I thought your mention of the LED lights was a very interesting example of a tropical theme, I think these are become very wide spread and weren’t something that I thought of.


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