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Island Materials

Island Materials

Some materials are less suited to the islands than others. Wool comes to mind. And leather. But other textures and textiles are perfect for island life.

The organic beauty of seashells comes from the fact that no two are identical. It’s easy to forget that shells are exoskeletons that once housed living sea creatures, but this is what makes them an ideal material in an island setting because they were created to house the creatures in the sea and have weathered the often harsh conditions of the surf and sand.

Using products made from recycled materials is crucial in the Virgin Islands where recycling programs are often limited or nonexistent. Rugs made from recycled polypropylene straws are UV stabilized, mildew resistant, durable to foot traffic and completely washable.

The ultimate island resource for food, water, oil, timber, decoration, pipes and household items is the coconut tree. The Professor in Gilligan’s Island fashioned a radio out of the shell, and I had a houseguest who made us a coconut toast rack. The natural fibre harvested from the husk, coir, serves as the substance for rugs, nets, rope, padding and brushes.

Bamboo is one of the most versatile materials on the planet, used in everything from kitchen utensils to flooring to furniture. It’s known for resiliency and strength, qualities necessary to survive the often unforgiving climate of the BVI. Primaltek.com says that bamboo “can bend during the worst weather and not break.”


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