With so many global centers of art and design to choose from, it was nearly impossible to whittle our list down to eight destinations for travel-bound interior designers seeking inspiration along with requisite rest and relaxation. From iconic design go-tos like New York, to the less traveled artistic centers like Seto Inland Sea, Japan, our list covers every place interior designers need to know when planning their next vacation, a.k.a. creative recharge.
Mexico City, Mexico
(Gilardi House by Luis Barragán; photo credit: Dwell)
Mexico City is first on our list of top travel destinations for interior designers in search of a revelation. Founded by the Aztecs in 1325, it is the oldest city in the Americas. After being ravaged then rebuilt by the Spanish in the 16th Century, the city has long represented a unique juxtaposition and, at times, merging of cultures and design conventions. When Mexico became independent from Spain in 1821, a distinctly original, Mexican aesthetic quickly developed, reflecting its cultural history, the colors and textures of the landscape, and sophisticated integration and participation in global artistic movements. In 2018, the World Design Organization named it a Design Capital of the World, thereby making official what was a long understood by international art and design aficionados.
When visiting, make sure you visit the Casa Luis Barragán, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a renowned example of modern architecture that uses levers of interior design, such as lighting, color, and interior/exterior connection to provide visitors with a sublime experience. For another immersion in color and playful take on the vernacular architecture of the city, head over to Casa Azul (the ‘Blue House’), the former home of famed artist, Frieda Kahlo, which is now a museum dedicated to telling her life story through the objects, dwelling, and neighborhood she cherished most. To shop for local wares, including ceramics, textiles, and hand crafted furniture, check out La Ciudadela, then stroll around the corner to Onora Casa, a boutique with a curated selection of hand-crafted textiles and home goods created by Mexican artisans. At the end of the day, rest your head at the sleek Hotel Carlota, designed by Javier Sanchez. If you happen to be visiting in October, Design Week Mexico will be going on from the 3rd through the 27th!
(The Blox Project; photo credit: ArchDaily)
Danish design rose to prominence in the mid-20th Century, making a significant contribution to the mid-century modern movement. Contemporary design in the city of Copenhagen often reflects the same sleek, minimalist aesthetic of the era in which Danish design rose to international prominence, but this medieval city offers a stunning array of design diversity, if you know where to look.
Begin your visit at the city’s most important medieval landmark, Roskilde Cathedral, which was built in 1170 as the first brick Gothic Cathedral. For your next stop, check out Nyhavn, a 17th-century waterfront district, lined with 17th and early 18th century townhouses painted in bright, cheerful colors, where you can stop for coffee or lunch and enjoy the historical wooden ships that rest on the canal. Juxtapose these historical design wonders with a visit to the cutting edge Danish Architecture Center, housed in a building designed by OMA. When you are ready for some shopping, check out “The Apartment,” a gallery/boutique in the Christianshavn neighborhood that showcases 20th-century furniture, contemporary art, and design. More interior design favorites include “Illums Bolighus,” another high-concept gallery, and Hay House, offering products that are the epitome of Scandanavian design.
New York, NY
(The Beekman Hotel; photo credit: InteriorDesign.net)
New York City has been a leader of the international art and design community for so long, one may take it for granted when thinking about where to travel for a design-centric jaunt. However, with so much new construction, particularly over the last decade, there is always something new to see. If you haven't walked the Highline, now is the perfect time to see the finished project. This linear, garden-lined walkway, built on raised, abandoned train tracks, begins on the Lower West Side of Manhattan and ends at the now finished Hudson Yards. While the whole walk is only 1.5 miles, leave enough time to stop and marvel at Zaha Hadid’s 520W28, plus plenty of time to explore the many architectural experiences of Hudson Yards, including the “Vessel” and Snarkitecture’s Snark Park.
There are no shortage of places to shop in New York City, which houses many flagship showrooms from the best designers in the world. While you’re in Hudson Yards, be sure to check out the new 1stDibs showroom, where guests can have an interactive experience with the online gallery’s finest pieces. For one-stop multi-showroom shopping, head east to the Decoration and Design (D&D) and the Architecture and Design (A&D) buildings. Soho and Gramercy are also beautiful neighborhoods to stroll through with plenty of hot showrooms to stop in along the way.
When you are looking for a place to stay, check out the Edition Times Square, designed by Yabu Pushelberg, or the Hoxton Williamsburg, a super stylish, yet affordable option in one of the city’s hippest Brooklyn neighborhoods. The Beekman Hotel is another great option, and is worth a trip downtown to have dinner or a drink at its Temple Court or Augustine restaurants.
(Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen; photo credit: O’bon Paris)
Paris, like New York, is already well known to interior designers, but deserves a place on the list nonetheless. Designers headed to Paris must visit the world famous flea markets such as Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen et Clignancourt, the Marché Paul Bert, and the Marché Serpette inside at Rue des Rosiers. Designers acquainted with 1stdibs.com will find the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen et Clignancourt familiar, since the online platform was designed to resemble this internationally celebrated “flea market”. Next, head to the Le Marais neighborhood to explore the art galleries and local design vendors, then to Rue Bonaparte from Boulevard Saint-Germain toward the Seine for furniture stores, more galleries, and fabric showrooms, such as Nobilis. For more show-stopping antiques, go to Galerie Patrick Seguin to peruse pieces by Charlotte Perriand and Jean Prouvé,. Pierre Jeanneret. For a little history, check out Le Courbousier’s Paris apartment, which as of November 2018, is reopened to the public. Then, stop for dinner and drinks at Beefbar Paris, a trendy nightlife destination housed in an ornately refurbished 19th-century atrium, just off the Champs Elysées.
New Orleans, LA
(Brennan’s; photo credit: Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group)
New Orleans has a rich and deep history, with several cultures coming together to form a distinct aesthetic that defines this lively U.S. city. Native Americans were the original settlers of the land, dating back to 400 A.D, before the Europeans conquered the land and ushered in an era of colonialism in the 18th century. The city of New Orleans was officially founded by the French in 1713, quickly fell to Spanish control, reverted back to French control, and then finally become a U.S. territory with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. For much of its history, it was the largest port in the Southern U.S., bringing even more global influences to the vibrant city.
One of the landmark buildings in New Orleans is the The Orpheum Theater, designed by Gustave Albert Lansburgh in 1918 and restored by local architecture firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple to revive its original color palette and intricate plasterwork. Visit the Hermann-Grima and Gallier Historic Houses to see what domestic life and design looked like in 1800s New Orleans, then stroll through the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 to understand how notions of the afterlife shape the New Orleans aesthetic. If you’re ready for different type of spirit after the cemetery, book a table at Brennan’s in the French Quarter, which was recently renovated by designer Richard Keith Langham (a long-time user of DM!). Commander's Palace is another great choice for a taste of local design and delicacies. For shopping, don’t miss The French Market on Sunday, when the city’s flea market is open for business. When it’s time to sleep, check in to the Hotel Monteleone, a four star French Quarter hotel that is also a historic landmark.
(Haji Lane in Kampong Glam; photo credit: AFAR)
Singapore has something for every art and design lover. While it is a leader in cutting edge design and architecture, it offers historical charm as well. Orchard Road, the city’s luxury shopping area, is worth a visit, if only for its interesting architecture. The houses on Emerald Hill are early 20th century Chinese Baroque, while new structures like ION Orchard, designed by Benoy and featuring an art gallery, an observation deck, and a multi-sensory media wall, is sleek and modern. The Kampong Glam neighborhood is another design gem, with vibrant murals and multi-ethnic restaurants, antique stores, and coffee shops. If you are seeking an experience of grandeur, visit the golden-domed Sultan Mosque, a national monument that hosts bustling night markets during the holiday time of Ramadan.
The city offers no shortage of delightfully designed hotels to choose from. The Raffles Hotel is a beautiful colonial building with decadent interiors that was built in 1887. For something more modern, check out the South Beach Hotel, designed by Foster + Partners with interiors by Philippe Starck. The PARKROYAL on Pickering offers the ultimate vertical garden experience to its guests.
Seto Inland Sea, Japan
(Ribbon Chapel; photo credit: The Architect’s Newspaper)
The Seto Inland Sea is the body of water that flows between three of the four main islands of Japan, Honshū, Shikoku, and Kyūshū, and the area has long been an active hub of trade and tourism. The local governments, businesses, and cultural institutions were the first to patronize Modernist architecture after World War II. The prefecture of Kagawa has long been investing in making the local towns along the sea architectural landmarks and has recently led the development of Naoshima, Teshima, and Inushima, turning the greater area into an influential center of contemporary art and architecture.
The Benesse Art Site Naoshima is a collection of museums all designed by one of Japan’s top starchitects, Tadao Ando. SANAA’s Teshima Art Museum, which blurs exterior/interior boundaries with its open air concept, is also a must-see, as is their cloud shaped Naoshima port terminal. Find a moment for reflection at Hiroshi Nakamura’s Ribbon Chapel. The region has no shortage of luxury hotels and eateries for relaxation and libation. The most unique stay experience is surely found at Guntû, a 19-room ryokan aboard a ship that floats atop the Seto Inland Sea.
(El Cosmico; photo credit: Remodelista)
If Marfa is not yet on your radar, it’s high time you look up this art and design wonder located in the middle of the Texan dessert. The town was first founded as a water stop along the New Orleans Railroad and flourished as the support to the Marfa Army Airfield. However, when the airfield was closed in 1945, the town fell into decline. Things began to change for the better in the 1970’s when artist Donald Judd stumbled upon the town and immediately took an interest in the ghost-town feel of an abandoned relic. He set up his studio in Marfa and later established the The Chinati Foundation, which brought more minimalist artists to the town.
Design enthusiasts will want to visit the Judd Foundation, the AYN Foundation, and the Chinati Foundation for a thorough tour of the town’s artistic offering. Other design destinations include the Prada Marfa, which is an artistic installation by Elmgreen and Dragset, set up as a mock-store that serves as a gallery for Prada’s fall/winter 2005 collection. The Tiny Target is a newer take on the same idea. Be sure to have a meal at Marfa Burrito, or if you are there on a Friday night, owners Vicente and Ramona’s host a Friday night taco stand in the garden behind the restaurant. For slightly more sophisticated fare, try Cochineal. For the ultimate Marfa experience, stay at El Cosmico, a hotel comprised of a collection of luxury RVs and yurts.
To be the best interior designer you can be, it's important to give yourself the opportunity to take in new influences and recharge your creative spirit. Art and design is a constantly evolving field, and new attractions are springing up across the globe every day, providing endless opportunities for new inspiration. We will continue to monitor the international design scene to keep you informed of the latest developments and new destinations to put on your radar, so follow Design Manager on Instagram @designmanager for the latest tips on where and how to reinvigorate your interior design mind.