This month my Dad turned 70. And to celebrate this landmark, he wanted to go fishing. Not just a regular trip to the Dart with a flask of tea and some sardines, he wanted the fishing trip of a lifetime. He wanted to fish in Miami! That’s how I found myself jetting off to sunny Florida with my Dad, my brother Rob, his wife Kim and my adorable nephew Ralph for a week soaking up beach culture - States style.
I thought that being a native of the Devon coast, I knew beach life. But Miami beach has it’s own unique style that’s big and bold and full of colour. Sure, they have beach huts like we do, seafood like we do and ice-creams like we do, but the beach huts are painted in eye wateringly bright yellows and turquoises in rows that go on for miles, the seafood is served on rainbow coloured plates the size of bike wheels and the ice creams come in a zillion flavours from a huge candy bar. Everything is bigger - except the bikinis! Body confident Miami women of all shapes and sizes strut their stuff against the dazzling blue of the Florida sea in a rainbow of tiny swimwear - a far cry from the M&S tummy control swimsuits back home.
It’s not just the man made stuff that’s bigger - on an white knuckle airboat trip through the Everglades, we saw huge fish, alligators and bird life. Dad chartered the gallant Captain Fred to take him out on the water, returning with tales of huge tarpons snatched from his line by even bigger sharks, the ultimate “one that got away”! The Caribbean influence along the Keys extends beyond the straw roofed beach huts and palm trees, and into the kitchens and restaurants. The food there is so good - freshly caught seafood is served with seasoned rice in typically generous portions.
We didn’t indulge in too much shopping, but I couldn’t resist stepping into Dylan’s candy bar - the smell alone makes it hard to walk past! This isn’t just a sweet shop, it’s a sugar palace, with an ice-cream bar and over 200 different varieties of sweets. I loved the vibrant packaging on the US candy, bold typography and contrasting colours are right up my street. From the giant lollipop sculpture in the centre of the room to the cheery candy print wallpaper, everything is mouthwateringly colourful.
For this designer, the best part of the trip was perhaps unsurprisingly our visit to Wynwood Walls Art Park, where I fell in love with the incredible graffiti. It’s hard to describe the effect of being surrounded by so much art on such a grand scale. Vast optical illusions and comic book characters sit alongside incredible realism and witty slogans, and so much colour covers every wall! I came away inspired to create my own mural back home to replace the blank white render of the courtyard garden. Look out for a little Miami inspiration in our upcoming collections - if things are a little bigger and a little brighter, you’ll know why.