I grew up in a LARGE family. As any family knows, this means a drastic cut back on travel, because each child is another plane ticket. My first plane ride was a ticket I bought myself to New Orleans to visit my dad’s side of the family when I was 21 years old.
It’s amazing the things that impact people differently when they experience new things. All I could think about New Orleans was… it’s so flat. My dad took us out to 'the hill’ and I stood there puzzled, trying to find it. He had to explain that there was a slight incline. To a Seattle native, this was flat enough to pitch a tent on. No, this didn’t inspire me to build New Orleans style architecture and try to make it fit in Seattle. It did, however, give me a different viewpoint on the world and how people experience space. I was enamored by the long thin alleyways that led to magnificent bars (Pat O’s for you NOLA folks), and by the way it felt different to be outdoors there. Even the grass was different. Rather than working to replicate style, I was interested in replicating feeling.
Two children and a recession later, I haven’t done the amount of traveling I would like to have done, but we are making a very focused effort. Each trip gives me a different outlook. Even the little annual trip we take to the Oregon coast each year, staying in a different AirBnB each time. I look at the homes we stay in and how different people live, organize, and utilize their interior spaces. It’s fascinating.
In Belize, the bathroom was as big as the living room, and the walk-in shower we had was deep enough to serve as a shallow bath, which felt wonderful in the heat and humidity. In Japan, the bathrooms… oh, the bathrooms. They were compartmentalized, well thought out, and very clean. Experiencing different cultures and understanding how differently they live and operate help me to understand how to best design for different personality types and to perfect my approach by considering completely different lifestyles.
When I come home, I am not looking to replicate a Japanese bathroom or a Belizean shower. I am, however, considering these approaches when I hear my clients’ needs and frustrations. I am remembering solutions that I may not find in a local showroom.
More than anything, travel changes perspective. And, what better way to create and be creative than to have the ability to change perspective?