To travel is to not just immerse yourself in different scenery, but to allow that experience to inform how you see the world. For designers and those looking for the next hottest trend, there’s nothing more exciting than dropping into a new edgy destination.
Different architecture, exciting museums, up-and-coming galleries or beautiful shops often trigger the imagination.
Whether it’s luxuriating in a design hotel, discovering a vintage shop of treasures, bargaining for an exotic rug or just soaking up the atmosphere, taking an overseas sojourn will give your homemaking a global perspective.
Some of the country’s top designers take us on a journey to their most inspiring cities.
There’s nothing like ditching your everyday existence and exploring a new place. Designer Sarah-Jane Pyke, left, of Arent & Pyke likes to disconnect and immerse herself in her chosen location.
“When you’re outside your norm, you become very observant,” she says. “Having that level of observation [switched] on again starts to influence your design work when you come home.”
A trip to Denmark was an eye-opener for the Sydney-based designer. Pyke met furniture makers and watched craftspeople making chairs by hand, visited the forest where the wood is sourced and learned about the longevity of Danish design.
“When I travel, it’s more about an immersive experience rather than bringing back particular objects. If I buy design overseas, it’s always vintage because those are the things you have to snap up.”
Pyke also rediscovered the magic of candlelight on her trip, which is now influencing Arent & Pyke’s current projects.
“The way they use lighting there is so critical to the environment because of how bleak it can be for half of the year; we came home talking about warmth in lighting and layers of light.”
Must-visit places: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Fredericia furniture.
It might not instantly spring to mind as a design destination, but downtown LA has been transformed into a hub for contemporary art in the past 10 years. With a range of edgy galleries and design showrooms, it’s hard to resist.
“Travel is crucial for designers – there’s no way of making informed decisions otherwise,” says Thomas Hamel, above, who usually visits the bustling city five times a year.
Skilled craftsmen, the descendants of Europeans who fled to Hollywood to make movie sets after World War II, create bespoke furniture, and Hamel loves to check out new restaurants, showrooms and gardens to identify the latest trends.
With a population set to surpass 40 million residents in 2019, California’s interior design market is extensive and ever-inspiring.
“LA is constantly changing and has a youthful approach to design and interiors,” says Hamel.
“LA excels at indoor/outdoor living, which is so applicable to us here in Australia.”
He says features such as outdoor fire pits and casual living areas are emphasised. He enjoys the way colour is used so confidently and also admires the openness to young and upcoming designers.
Must-visit places: Pacific Design Centre, Blackman Cruz, DAO and RH Modern.
Favourite design cities: New York, Paris, Amsterdam.
After six visits to Tokyo – and a Japanese sister-in-law – Amanda Henderson, left, feels she has a good insight into Japanese culture.
The Gloss Creative designer finds inspiration everywhere she goes, even in the supermarket aisles.
“I love Tokyo because people there see beauty and design as part of everyday life,” she says.
The Japanese view on luxury is always nature based – think of onsen and gardens – and it’s very different from the west, she explains.
“I also love the way adult culture embraces icons of childhood,” she says of the Japanese fascination with Disney, cartoons and manga.
The Yayoi Kusama gallery and the teamLab Planets museum are unforgettable immersive experiences. In Roppongi, 21 21 Design Sight and the Brutalist Nakagin Capsule Tower in Ginza are among Henderson’s highlights.
Travelling is a great way to mentally reset yourself, she believes. As well as coming home refreshed, Henderson is inspired and incorporates Japanese aesthetics such as origami, floral concepts and graphics into her design work in Melbourne.
Must-visit places: Yayoi Kusama gallery, teamLab Planets museum and the Capsule Hotel.
Favourite design cities: London, Copenhagen, Palm Springs.
Sydney creative and interior designer Emma Elizabeth, left, founded the first design vlog by travelling to every big design fair in the world. Milan, where she studied, remains her main muse.
In March, she brought a group of 26 Australians, some of our best designers, to the Milan Design Week to showcase their work under the Local Milan banner.
“The Italians have such a great heritage,” she says. “We are what they call the baby nation.”
She says having design, fashion and an incredible art scene all in the one city is almost an overload.
Apart from Design Week, which draws half a million visitors, Milan has incredible galleries and stores.
Visitors can see what is currently happening in Europe and tune into future trends, and see what works and what doesn’t.
“I love seeing the colours, tones and layering and what they do advertising-wise; it really inspires me in my commercial and design work.”
Must-visit places: 10 Corso Como, Nilufar, Rossana Orlandi galleries, Triennale museum.
Favourite design cities: Tokyo, Valencia, Eindhoven (Netherlands).
Travelling has always been a passion for designer and stylist Sibella Court, left, owner of The Society Inc. Imaginarium, her latest book, is a collection of her wanderings, interior projects and sources of inspiration.
“I travel constantly to seek out inspiration for my interior design, hardware product range, travel articles and books,” Court says.
“I travel with a purpose whether it’s for a workshop, trade fair, to experience a hotel or restaurant, visit a maker, explore a museum or a special flea market.”
She likes to discover exotic materials and see how they are used, to observe craftspeople and to find different colour combinations.
She’s definitely got a wandering spirit – her other books include Gypsy and Nomad. Next on Court’s wishlist are New Guinea, Rajasthan, Egypt, Jordan, New Mexico and Scotland.
“I souvenir it all. In French, the word souvenir means both memory and memorabilia.”
Must-visit places: Rajasthan and New Mexico.
Favourite design cities: Melbourne, San Francisco, Moradabad (India).