Destination: Trancoso, Brazil

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Brazil’s colourful and energetic aesthetic is beginning to make real waves in global design trends. Recently relaxed trade restrictions have opened up a rich source of design talent and cutting edge sustainability concepts which have been well-cultivated by and for the local market. The Olympics, the World Cup, designers moving out, international retailers moving in… Brazil is in the spotlight, but it’s changing, so now is the time to visit, before global trade homogenises the intensity of the indigenous design.

Brazil is a big place so deciding where to go is no easy task. After a hectic week at Sao Paulo Fashion Week and in the fifth month of my pregnancy I wanted somewhere relaxing with good food and bountiful instagram fodder. My Brazilian colleagues recommended Trancoso, a colourful cliff top village in the state of Bahia, overlooking quintessential tropical beaches. The place itself is a real dichotomy; its remote location and simple way of life belie a bohemian luxury regularly frequented by Brazil’s elite.

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Trancoso’s central Quadrado (square) is headed up by a 16th Century white washed church and surrounded by brightly coloured huts housing restaurants and shops including outposts for Osklen and swimwear guru Lenny. (The rustic simplicity of these buildings is about as far away as you can get from their other stockists which include Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Barneys and Saks).

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Tissue paper pom poms, coloured garlands and strings of lights hang from the trees surrounding the Quadrado, while candles and flowers decorate the tables. Nothing is too slick though, everything has a handmade charm which gives the place an honesty which is rare to find in luxury destinations.

Around the town hand-carved wooden signs flag up pousadas, fantastical graffiti decorates walls and playful shaped peepholes are cut into fences and gates.

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Down at the beach noughties chill out tunes find a new relevance as cocktails and coconut water are served out of a boat lodged in the sand at Uxua, while further up the beach Villas de Trancoso has indulgent canopy beds and loungers. On a more adventurous day we took a trip to nearby Caveira to swim in the river mouth and head upstream into the Amazon to buy jewellery and handicrafts direct from the Pataxo tribe.

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Where we stayed:

We found Pousada Calypso on the Hidden Pousadas website. Pousada translates as ‘inn’ and they offer homely and personal accommodation.  Our apartment had a balcony complete with brightly patterned cushions and a hammock from which you could survey the jungle garden and hot tub. A suitably tropical breakfast is made to order in a gorgeous open-sided lounge room which straddles the house and garden.

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Cool and calming tonal whites decorate the interior of the apartments, while outside bright, saturated colours, bold illustrations and patterns pop against a backdrop of lush vegetation to provide the kind of visual feast you’d expect from Brazil.

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Relaxation aside, the fast wifi connection did enable me to finish my Sao Paulo Fashion Week report (from the hammock) and of course bombard my instagram followers with endless irritating pictures of idyllic beach scenes to further affirm what a wonderful time I was having.

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Images: Pousada images courtesy of Pousada Calypso. All other images by Francesca Muston.

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Francesca Muston has spent the last 10 years travelling the globe for the fashion trend forecasting business WGSN. A regular in the world's fashion capitals, her role demands an eye for the quirky and unusal, from cafes and hotels to shops and street fashion, always watching for the beginnings of the next big thing.