Holidays are too few and far between. To have a piece of that experience and memory reflected in your interior – even the smallest incidental that makes you smile and takes you to another place – is what it's all about.
When you are travelling, take note of what's around you – don't set out to find, but to discover. I take a lot of photos (and many notes) that get edited into my stories. I use history as a reference point for many of my travels, as well as interiors I style & design. Maybe my love of research sparks this. I like the type of research journey that leads you to something unexpected, a kink in the road that can be saved up for later if it appears irrelevant for now. In many interiors or houses, there is a mix & layering of periods, styles, tastes & generations (unless you are a purist): it might be heirlooms from times gone by, a roadside find, hand-me-downs or gifts, a modern fad, original features used in a building's structure, even a past DIY folly or the debris of family life. You can use your own travel history & memories in the same way. It's not about shipping furniture & props home (although this is lovely if you can! And a cheaper way to go rather than getting busted for excess luggage at the airport), but about reminders of your travels that can be incorporated into your existing interior. You can use everything you already own, but simply rearrange and edit in a different way. This can be in the form of translating an observation, colour combination, planting, texture, finish even window treatments & furniture placement.
Here are things I keep in mind in the planning and experiencing phases of my journeys, which ensure that I return home with a mind full of ideas and a suitcase full of treasures:
- I like to come up with a reason for visiting a place. I save them up & add to them. Once a place goes on my ‘list’, I might get a book recommended or stumble upon an obscure museum; a fabric I like might have been woven there; or origins of an alcohol or a maker’s history of a piece of furniture might intrigue me. As I collect this information, different destinations jostle for a position in the Top 5.
- When you live as far away as I do in Australia, no trip has a single reason for travelling. The choice might be as simple as ‘While I’m in the vicinity, it would be rude not to pop in.’ While I appear to be gallivanting around the world, I might combine a holiday with a book chapter, a fair, some product development or an editorial shoot.
- When I have chosen one destination, I find it best to pull out the atlas and see what is in the surrounding areas. Take an extra day to see something wonderful!
- When I travel by myself, I follow my own agenda: usually a jam-packed itinerary of historical houses, markets, cafes & bars, walking, shopping, artists; studios, collections, trades & makers, loosely structured around early starts, writing & editing the day’s photos.
- My motto for photos is ‘Keep the best, chuck out the rest’. I believe the first impressions of a place are so important: there’s an excitement that comes from a brand-new place. I try to take lots of photos upon arrival with these fresh eyes.
I like to shake up my companions within one trip, spending just the right amount of time before changing countries & meeting my next adventure or seeking out on my own.
- Although I can't bring all the things I really want back with me, I still find plenty of inspiration that's easily adapted and incorporated into my life, and home.