Distant lands and unfamiliar cultures are a boundless source of inspiration, By Gary Inman, VP of Hospitality, Baskervill

Wanderlust, or a fascination for travel, is a passion shared by many designers. We have all felt the enchantment of the exotic and the tremendous power a new place has to forge new perceptions and to redirect and broaden our worldview. As Diana Vreeland famously stated, “the eye has to travel.” This is true whether you’re an architect, or a fashion, product, or interior designer.

We frequently see the influence of travel reflected in new fashion and home decor collections. The best designers, in my opinion, are storytellers. It is travel and the immersion in other cultures that revitalizes our vision and inspires us in terms of colors, patterns, fragrances, and lifestyles. The more multifaceted our cultural vocabulary is, the more rich and vital our design language becomes.

Scot Meacham Wood Design

“I always feel that I only understand my own point of view when I see it placed against a different culture. The challenge is understanding.”

“Even more important than learning what is different about others, is learning what we have in common,” says Barry Dixon, founder, Barry Dixon, Inc. “In the best of instances, universal truths and sensibilities are reflected in our homes, in the way we live.” I have always found that I am fascinated by the differences in the cultures I visit but also reminded that we all share a common desire for community, family, nurture, and love.

Barry Dixon, Inc.

“I can’t imagine working on a home without having a global perspective that can only come with travel and living within other cultures.”

For most of us, wanderlust begins as childhood fantasies fueled by books and films that extol the adventures of Sinbad, Perseus, or Galahad, filling our heads with images of castles, knights in shining armor, magical flying carpets, mythological creatures, and everywhere dazzling beauty. What child has not dreamed of becoming a great adventurer? My friend Robin Baron tells me, “When I travel, I’m influenced by everything that surrounds me; the sights; the smells; the culture, and, of course, the architecture – and absolutely the food! All of this stimulates my senses, inspires my creativity and changes how I see the world.”

Media room by Robin Baron, inspired by a trip to Istanbul

Vicente Wolf, whose work is inextricably bound with his global travels shares, “Discovering the beauty and culture of other societies and lands nourishes my spirit and creative process. Traveling brings a full perspective to my work.”

“I love the peaceful nonchalance of this Nepalese woman as she goes about her daily life surrounded by her culture’s poignant, bold colors.”

After he returns from the road, Australian designer Greg Natale translates the new perspectives gained from other cultures into his work. “New places can do more than just introduce us to a new color, or pattern, or method of making something. They give us a feeling. I love to draw on that feeling – and draw it into my designs.”

Greg Natale

Moving beyond his own experiences, David Santiago likes to bring influences from his clients’ travels into their homes. Crafting a perfect blend of tradition, culture, and travel for a young family, Santiago drew upon their travels to Italy and Asia, as well as their affection for English and Italian menswear. Composing these elements into “an inviting dining room to be used for everyday life,” he says, “I used furnishings from Bassett and Pulaski. Fabrics were sourced from Kravet and Robert Allen. Lighting came from Crystorama, and the rugs were imports from Safavieh.”

David Santiago

For Jason Oliver Nixon and John Loecke of Madcap Cottage, all encounters are opportunities for inspiration. “We keep our eyes open at all times,” says Jason, “whether we’re on a far-flung trip to the English countryside, the remotest parts of Rajasthan in India, or a visit to the local mall. You never know where you might spot great design inspiration. John and I recently designed a fabric that was based on a garden we toured on the coast of Maine. Then, over the floral pattern, we layered in a graphic motif from a fretwork gate that we spotted in Marrakech.”

Jason Oliver Nixon

“Travel is an essential component of inspiration for our brand.”

“Wherever I go,” says AD Top 100 designer Timothy Corrigan, “I make a point of visiting museums and galleries, or just walking the streets. A simple or elaborate detail will eventually find its way into one of my projects.” In his wallpaper line for Fromental you can see details taken from the gardens and tapestries of France.

Timothy Corrigan

Of course, the working designer needs to find reliable sources, close to home, to bring the inspirations of far off places to life within the time and budget constraints of their projects. For this, High Point Market is a veritable grand bazaar, where exhibitors gather items of exceptional craftsmanship from around the world, and place them at our fingertips.

You can explore furniture and lighting crafted in Europe at CONARTE; rugs hand-knotted in Nepal at Tamarian, New Moon, and Nourison, and accessories sourced internationally at Design Legacy, Europe 2 You, and Phillips Collection.

Plus, you will find a rich and varied selection of products from leading designers whose inspirations come from every corner of the globe.

To explore the travel inspired work of Kelli Ellis visit Sunpan and Leftbank Art.

Sitting room by Kelli Ellis, inspired by travels to southern Spain and Morocco

Leftbank Art also has a stunning curation by FORM Design Studio’s Joshua Rose and Rafael Kalichstein.

Outdoor event space for Catelli’s Restaurant in Sonoma county, by Joshua Rose and Rafael Kalichstein of FORM Design Studio, inspired by Tuscan Pallazzi

Michelle Nussbaumer channels her style and inspiration from places she has traveled and lived, including Italy, Asia, Mexico, Switzerland, Morocco, and India. Her exotic textiles and accessories can be found at Design Legacy.

Dining table by Michelle Nussbaumer, composed of Venetian crystal, 19th Century terracotta, and Chinese porcelain

Barry Dixon’s collections at Arteriors and Tomlinson are always exceptional.

Nourison features Scot Meacham Wood.

Joe Ruggiero, a licensing genius, can be found at The MT Company, Wildwood Lamps, Textillery, Gat Creek, and Phoenix Trim Works.

Bedroom by Joe Ruggiero, product designer, producer and host of HGTV’s World of Design

You won’t want to miss Robin Baron’s full collection of furniture, hardware, and rugs in the chic SALON of Market Square.

Travel enriches the eye and fills the creative imagination with an endless archive of beauty. Where shall we go next? Why not High Point? In just a few days at Market you can truly travel the world.

About Gary Inman

A nationally celebrated designer of fine homes, luxury hotels and resorts, historic inns, furniture, and home fashions, Gary is a pioneer of the narrative design movement. He has given more than a thousand lectures, contributed to several books, and his television credits include A&E’s America’s Castles, the PBS series Monuments and Mansions, The Editor At Large, and various television news interviews. He currently serves as Vice President of Hospitality with Baskervill, America’s seventh most enduring firm with 120 years of continuous practice, and one of the top “20 International Giants of Hospitality.”