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The 3 ways Tommy Bahama defines Florida design

Leigh Hanlon, Tribune Brand Publishing

For many, “Florida style” brings to mind Tommy Bahama, a brand whose design sensibilities and lifestyle choices encompass everything from weddings on the beach to furniture in your home.

The line is well represented at Baer’s, a family-owned group of fine furniture stores with 15 locations throughout Florida — and is the world’s largest dealer of Tommy Bahama Home.

It might come as a surprise, then, that Tommy Bahama has only been around since 1992. That’s when the first restaurant and retail location opened in Naples, Florida.

Tommy Bahama Brown Rattan Bed and Chair

“Tommy Bahama has been around just over 20 years and we might be one of the few brands on the planet that when you say our name to consumers, they think of a place (and a lifestyle),” said Rob Goldberg, Tommy Bahama’s Executive Vice President of marketing.

According to Goldberg, the company’s mission is a simple one: “To inspire the world to relax.”

That’s a mission Tommy Bahama takes seriously. From a single clothing store and restaurant, the company has expanded to 150 Tommy Bahama stores, 14 restaurants, a thriving furniture business — and numerous other brand extensions including sheets, fans, rugs, skateboards and a $330,000 handmade Hacker Craft boat.

“This gives our brand great context, gives us more authority in home design and esthetics and atmosphere,” Goldberg said. “People have invited us into their living room, bedroom and kitchen.”

Here, some ways the brand pairs so nicely with the Sunshine state.

A Florida focus

Goldberg notes that there is more than one aspect to a Florida or “island” look that Tommy Bahama covers.

“From a design perspective, there’s South Beach, the Gulf Coast, North Coast … all have different sensibilities, yet all come back to the same foundation and theme: a lifestyle that’s a little slower, easier and more relaxed,” he said.

Other factors include the weather, culture and years of Florida traditions.

“When I think about Florida consumers, many have a second home and might be spending just part of the year (there),” Goldberg said. “That will influence home design, which focuses on creating living space that doesn’t necessarily reflect the need to commute to work every day.”

Tropical highlights

Demographics have fueled an evolution in Florida’s design. Gone are the days of pink flamingos and aqua-colored highlights. Florida’s modern design, mirrored by Tommy Bahama’s furniture lines, exude a classic tropical beauty coupled with an understated modernity.

“I’ve seen this evolution over the years. Where we once would see coral used for an entire couch, that color is now finding favor in piping, as throw pillows or as a coral rug,” said Goldberg, describing the changing climate of Florida’s interior design.

Tommy Bahama lines draw influence from British Colonial and Pan-Asian design, more high-end looks that allows for a tied-together theme in a room. The Island Estates collection brings classic sculpted furnishing and pairs it with plantation finishes for a Caribbean feel.

From the other side of the world, the Island Fusion and Ocean Club lines offer simple but sleek Asian influences to provide a simultaneous timelessness and ultra-modern feel to a room. The hardwood finishes bring to mind Polynesian tropical forests, but the clean shapes are contemporary to the core.

“We know of folks who will furnish everything in Tommy Bahama,” Goldberg said. “This is possible because from a design perspective, our designs are quite versatile: Contemporary elements, timeless colonial deep woods, teak, mahoganies — there’s even a collection called Ivory Key that picks up on the Florida element with a Palm Beach feel.”

Constantly-evolving design

Goldberg emphasized that change is always part of the picture, just as it is in Florida.

“Like any trend, tropical comes and goes — but never goes away. For example, if a Bohemian trend happens to be popular, we can put a tropical, coastal or island twist on that theme.”

This rule is true for any consumer product, he added.

“Design is design, whether involving architecture, garments or motor vehicles,” Goldberg said. “All share the same principles of color, pattern and shape — and they’re always in a state of constant flux. You’re never going to be done because it keeps changing.”

For the widest selection of Tommy Bahama designs, from furniture collections to inspired accents, come in to any Baer’s furniture location and find Tommy Bahama’s full home furnishings line at the best prices in the nation.