Our designers often find inspiration in the spaces around them. But when they’re looking for a change of scenery, travel serves as an incredible opportunity to explore the built environment in new facets of the world. Below, a few Workshoppers tell stories from recent travels that left them with a new point of view.
Senior Designer, Jeremy Morton – Hakone & Naoshima, Japan
Hakone is a mountain town near Mt. Fuji surrounding rivers and Lake Ashi. It’s known for the “Onsen,” its natural hot spring spas & resorts. We took a switchback train ride from the coast, visited the Hakone Open air sculpture museum and the Kuzuryu Shrine. The path of Typhoon Hagibis – a category 5 super typhoon – passed directly through Hakone, while my sister and I were there. It turned out to be the costliest typhoon on record – $17.9 billion! I also discovered a few months later that this was a stop on my grandparent’s honeymoon – a full circle moment.
Naoshima is an island with art museums & installations throughout. We walked around the whole island, but you can also rent bikes. Triennial Art festival with surrounding islands. For designers, there are endless attractions to check out: Tadao Ando museums, Benesse House (and hotel), Lee Ufan Museum, and Chichu Art Museum (with James Turrell Installations). And of course, the Yayoi Kusama Yellow Pumpkin, pictured above.
Founding Principal Matt Berman – Rome, Italy
We visited Milan as part of the 2022 Design Leadership Network Summit, where we also visited Florence and Rome. Touring around Italy with our contemporaries was a unique, powerful way to connect over design – especially in a place where good craftsmanship is ubiquitous.
Senior Designer Nick Locicero – Drawing class in Barolo, Italy
Designer Abeer Jazza – Granada, Spain
I travelled to Granada/Spain in December 2022. I wanted to explore the city’s culture and architecture. I’ve always been fascinated by cities that have multiple historical layers and how those layers influence and shape contemporary culture.
I stayed at Albaicin neighborhood; a historical neighborhood known for its narrow slopping streets and well preserved traditional Medieval Moorish houses. My favorite experience was walking through the narrow-curved streets edged by a beautiful palette of brown wooded roof lines, white stucco/plaster walls, and vegetation. The streets felt as though they weren’t leading to an exit, and just before I started panicking, I was pleasantly surprised to see another street leading to either up the hill where the most beautiful scenes of the city are or down to the main road.
Executive Assistant Lili Whitelaw – Lucerne, Switzerland
Marketing Coordinator Ellie Glass – Marseille, France
Senior Designer Tarika Thienapirak – Portugal
I traveled to Portugal in both February 2022 & 2023 (couldn’t get enough to of it!). I visited my partner’s home town and took the opportunity to explore the rest of the country while I was there.
My favorite design related experience in Portugal is visiting the Palacio Nacional de Sintra. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a stunning example of Moorish, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture. The palace is decorated with intricate azulejo tiles, intricate wood carvings, and beautiful gardens. It is a truly magical place to visit!