This year has undeniably been a challenge for every single one of us in one form or another. It has shone a light on what we were missing, especially the things we had taken for granted and so in turn, this has also been a blessing. I have definitely re-evaluated and reprioritised.
One thing I definitely took for granted was travelling. I have desperately missed it and I appreciate that luxury now more than ever.
I must have inherited my love for travel from my parents, who both met and worked in the aviation industry in the 1960’s. Travelling in those days was exhilarating and exciting. I couldn’t have been more than 2 months old when I had my first trip overseas tucked in my carry cot in the back of my parents Cessna. These trips continued yearly and that unique and thrilling experience of exploring a new and different land – especially during that formative age – really affected me. It was something that I could not wait to repeat.
My first real adventure alone, I travelled around South America when it was far from the destination ‘hot-spot’ it is today. I loved every moment! I was 19 and left home with a terribly old canvas backpack, a camera and five hundred pounds (I had saved up by washing up in a restaurant) to last me a year! It never occurred to me that this certainly wasn’t enough. I had a one- way ticket, and had done a great deal of reading and research. I highlighted the countries and the areas that I wanted to see and I was determined to see them all.
My journey took me all over South America including a remarkable trip down the entire Amazon River from Tabatinga to Manaus in a dug out canoe. I didn’t come home for a year. This was just my first taste of the world and how remarkable it is. This particular journey also introduced me to my first culture – one full of colour and style. I have been fortunate enough to have been around the world many times and each journey brings new challenges, new adventures and certainly new cultures. Each one is a gift teaching me the different ways of life and how we all live so differently. My firm rule is to travel to at least one new destination each year and ideally to countries or places that are off the beaten track.
Many of my journeys have impacted my interiors and certainly understanding the cultures is a very important part of the design process.
When I moved to Asia and lived there for 16 years, it once again gave me a huge opportunity to discover another part of the world. This is certainly one of the largest parts of my company where we source fabulous materials from all over Asia. Having lived in this part of the world for so long makes travelling out to the Far East feel like coming home. We now design many of our products using materials and craftsmen from Asia. The breadth of options is incredible.
This in turn led me to start an interiors boutique in Chelsea, selling rare and interesting products, leading on to then designing my own range of artefacts with materials that I had collected from around the world. Clients visiting the boutique started asking me to design their homes. From there, the interior design side of the business really has taken on a life of its own with now over 48 staff. We are privileged to work on many wonderful and exciting projects all around the globe.
Travel has shaped and inspired my work in so many ways. I look around my living and workspaces and I see the treasures and photographs that take me back to a wonderful adventure. Each one evokes memories; triggering the sights and smells of that time and it floods my senses. My eye has now been trained to see not only see what is in front of me but to experience it. Every texture in my design should feel good as well as look beautiful and be functional.
To me travel is a sensory experience. Each place has its own unique light, smell, landscape and ambience.
Without realising it, I had absorbed so much about how other cultures live. This in turn has given me knowledge in how to design for my clients overseas and how to integrate their needs and desires sympathetically into my design.
Now more than ever I will cherish getting on that plane and go searching for those special adventures… the little things that inspire a spark within me. Every country I have experienced has shaped my life in some way. To me travelling is an investment of the soul.