Team Q&A : The Intersection of Travel + Design

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“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” 

Henry Miller says it well. Travel teaches one all sorts of things, not the least of which is to look at the world in a different way. The same is true in design – it’s a way of looking at the world around you (kinda like getting fresh pair of spectacles). The two have a lot in common, which means that it’s easy to take lessons from one and apply them to the other. 

Here, our team share favorite destinations, tidbits of meaningful moments, and how their out-of-bounds experiences have influenced the way they see things in one way or another. 

Note: As a team based in Bozeman, Montana, we have been hunkered down for the long winter and currently experiencing spring fever. We hope you can daydream along with us here…

Q. Where are your favorite places to travel?

Jeana: Small urban villages that have a lot of history, where people have been living for centuries. On the flip side, wild landscapes that makes a person feel like a grain of sand.

Hillary: Italy! The culture, lifestyle, and people are all wonderful!! 

Allison: Southern Utah; the landscape is foreign and beautiful. Such a change from the lush mountains of Montana, but striking in its own way.

Chelle: Pack the car and road trip! Best part is spontaneous stops and making memories along the way.

Courtney: Deutschland! I love the the spectrum of architecture you can find there – every major European style from Roman to Postmodern is represented. Visiting the The Bauhaus School in Dessau, Germany, the primary place where the movement took form will always stick with me.

Q.What are three items you must travel with?

Jeana: My sketchbook, running shoes, and comfortable clothes so I can be on the move all day!

Hillary: Face wipes, phone charger, wet ones!

Allison: Running shoes, sunglasses, and a book

Chelle: Camera, sunscreen and snacks

Courtney: Sour patch kids, phone [camera/maps], and big book

Q. What is one interesting or exotic find that you’ve stumbled across (or something you’ve done) while traveling that you’re particularly proud of?

Jeana: A hand woven wall hanging from Guatemala. Not the most exotic but it’s beautiful and reminds me of the amazing place it came from and the people I was with.

Allison: I’m always trying to find the best hole in the wall restaurant or bar – always rewarding when you find the funky hidden gems – the best ‘local secret’ dim sum joint, cocktail bar, etc.

Chelle: Living in London for 6 months during a study abroad program really opened my eyes to the excitement and curiosity of travel and exploring other cultures.  The classes we took were hands on and taught by industry professionals – which allowed us to be immersed on a whole new level, outside of the textbook.  One class in particular was on Museums. Taking the time to appreciate not only the history but what it meant to be there current day – the architecture, the stories behind the exhibits and the feeling it created.  There were no tests at the end, only requirement was to always have a notebook on hand and sketch your way through the journey! 

Courtney: I discovered my ’79 International Scout II in Anza, California. I had never driven a twin-shifter before, but somehow made it back to Montana. Proud or foolish? Not sure. Nonetheless, my Scout is dear to me because these vintage 4x4s have a way of becoming catalysts of connection to our past, to others, and to great adventures.

Q. How does travel change the way you think about design?

Jeana: Traveling brings empathy. It makes you acutely aware of what is not’normal’, but to others is essential to their life. It teaches you to first and foremost listen and observe before interjecting with your personal biases and preferences.-

Hillary: Inspiration is everywhere. I love seeing the world and seeing design influences throughout. I remember seeing a smart car for the first time in Belgium and realizing how they really are necessary for crowded old cities! 

Allison: We are so privileged to be able to travel to keep up on design; the AHI team went to NYC this fall for market, and while the show was great, it was the showrooms in Soho, the Whitney Museum, the art galleries exhibitions, the hotels and restaurants that we visited that really allowed us to see what is happening in design. While we love Montana, it is so important to look up from the day-to-day and see the bigger picture; make sure you are informed of design trends passing through Europe and larger cities. Abby, particularly, has an amazing ability to know what design is coming out of Europe, and translate it into a palatable application in the states.

While we love Montana, it is so important to look up from the day-to-day and see the bigger picture; make sure you are informed of design trends passing through Europe and larger cities.

Chelle: Travel should be about slowing down, engaging and appreciating, rather than rushing to do and see everything. I have to remind myself of this as I never want to miss out on anything. Taking the time to look at your surroundings and immerse yourself if only temporary allows you to see things from a different perspective. From holding a hand thrown coffee cup at the diner on the corner, to the intricacy of the doorway of the hotel, slow down and keep your eyes open!

Courtney: A lot of times when you start out on a trip, you want to know as much as possible —  where you’re going to go, what you’re going to do and when. But sometimes the best experiences come out of the spontaneous, or when you don’t know something. Trying something new can invigorate your design, expand your skill set, and give you a reason to collaborate with the design community — ask for help if you need it! But take the calculated risk.

We hope that you can use the traveler + designer mentality to expand your life. It will change the way you think and improve awareness of your surroundings in a new way. Hetherington, and her team at Abby Hetherington Interiors, are constantly sourcing pieces from auctions, contemporary artists, antique fairs, and exclusive European retailers. Meet the rest of the team.

AW tunes for you 🖤

Our team put a handful of tunes together for wherever your next travels may take you. Enjoy!