How Travel Influences My Design

Posted By Tim on Mar 11, 2017 |

Even as a small child, I remember always loving to go to new places. My curiosity about other places and other peoples was always in high gear. In grade school my favorite subject was geography. I loved maps, globes, atlas’s, National Geographic, and learning the capital of each state and country.

Travel is fascinating. We’re intrigued by how people dress differently, eat different foods, speak different languages, and live in homes that have no resemblance to the homes we know and live in.

I sensed early on that the small microcosm of life I knew in suburban America was not necessarily reflective of the world as a whole. There was more out there that I needed to experience. And so, at the age of 20, Australia became the first country to be stamped into my passport. That early experience forever altered – and expanded – my entire life’s perspective.

Even when we travel to cultures similar to ours, it peaks our curiosity and we tend to ask: what else could there be out there? Fast forward to today, and I’ve visited all 50 states, 46 different country’s and lived in Europe for 5 years. When Florence, Italy became my home from 1993-1998, I came to appreciate a different culture, language, and lifestyle. Travel expands our creativity, our experience, and our life. Life is really just a journey.

Florence! The first picture is the Piazza della Signoria; second picture is the Ponte Vecchio. My apartment was a mere 5 minute walk from each of these historic places.

My design style is one I often call World Collection. For me a home is more interesting when different genres are mixed side-by-side, because that’s the reality of how we live. We don’t eat the same type of food every day nor do we dress exactly the same every day. We tend to mix it all up for interest. For example, a room would be boring if the furniture, art and arrangement were all traditional. That’s often how furniture stores set up their showrooms – all one genre in one space. Rather, it’s more interesting to have, say, a modern piece of art hang over a traditional-styled table or vice versa; or, it’s more interesting to mix patterns in a non-traditional way. Whatever the mix, it tends to create intrigue when your eye stops to take in the whole moment.

The first picture is a children’s room full of mixed furniture styles, mixed patterns of fabrics, and art from all over the world. The second picture is an entry with a handmade rug from Afghanistan, a 300 year old Chinese altar table, crystals from Brazil, 2 poufs from India, and modern Maui watercolor originals.

As a traveler, I’m also greatly influenced by hotels, since I often stay in them. From the St Regis in Bangkok to the Four Seasons in Buenos Aires to the Royal Hawaiian in Honolulu, when I have to pull myself away from a hotel because of its great style, then I know I’ve met my match. One great example is the Hotel Costes in Paris, where I’ve stayed multiple times. It was designed by Jacques Garcia, who is a master of layering old-world French depth and richness. You could literally stay in this hotel in Paris for a week – never leave the property – and still feel like you had a grand Parisian experience. Here are some pictures of the Hotel Costes:

Just before starting a renovation on my own home, I was in Marrakesh and staying in one of their famed Riad’s, which is a Moroccan palace with an interior garden or courtyard. Moroccan style typically employs a detailed and mixed use of tile. Here are two typical Riad’s:

Not long after that inspiring trip, my own master shower was transformed into a Moroccan-inspired shower – albeit with a slight Hawaiian twist.

In essence, what I gain from travel is seeing other perspectives in design and imagining how I can incorporate and mix diverse aesthetics into various projects. I’m a great appreciator and respecter of all schools of design thought, from cutting-edge modern to old-world Italian Renaissance. Next up on my travel calendar: touring the thousand-year-old Great Wall in China and then exploring contemporary and fast-paced Hong Kong. Rest assured that the inspiration I will gain from this next trip will manifest in a design.

Follow me on Instagram @TimTattersallDesign and see various completed projects at:


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