Travel Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

Where do designers go to get inspired? Everywhere! Inspiration strikes when you least expect it — something as simple as street art on a corner of the city, or watching the waves crash upon the sand can spark our imaginations. Our team members took some time to reflect back on their most inspiring travels, and how it has affected their work.

“I did a much needed inspiration trip to Stockholm, Copenhagen and Amsterdam. Traveling alone really lets you take the time to wander and see things in a new way. Stockholm was my favorite for the photo museum and smaller galleries out of downtown. Copenhagen was the best for all things gray/black/white in fashion and design. Amsterdam was the most eclectic overall for style. Between visiting long time friends, lots of food, and many, many bike rides, I also explored museums and galleries, side streets and design shops. I loved the overall urban planning and co-habitation of bikes, cars and pedestrians in all cities compared to the mess we have in SF. All the snapshots I took for inspiration showed a trend in lines and connections, and will show up in my personal art for OpenStudios this fall.” – Dava Guthmiller, Founder

dava_collage“After living and working in the same city for a few years, life can become very routine. As creatives, we love Googling beautiful places or looking at designs from another country, but nothing beats traveling elsewhere for a mental refresh. Every few years I go to NYC to refuel. While SF is open and relaxed, NYC is packed and filled with people rushing from one way to another. Shops and restaurants are open till the wee hours of the night. Whether it’s a store interior, a restaurant menu, or the way people carry themselves, I’m always impressed with the consideration of details. It’s a city that embraces a lot of creativity and freedom of artistic expression, and just being there is enough to feel inspired.” – Evelyn Wei, Senior Designer


“It’s easy to get entrenched in a specific mindset after spending too much time in a single place. For me, traveling is a way to refresh my perspective by trying new things and seeing new sights. It’s a way to remind myself how much more there is to the world. When visiting Australia, I had the good fortune to work as a designer in Melbourne and Sydney. Both cities are cultural landmarks, dense with theaters, museums, music venues, and beautiful architecture. Like all cities, they’re full of bright lights and noise, traffic and people rushing back and forth. Driving through rural Victoria gave me the opportunity to see a less refined angle of the country, with its rugged landscape, hand-made signs, and the occasional bizarre roadside attraction. I dodged kangaroos darting across the road like deer, camped in caravan parks, and listened to the wind howl. Coming back home, regardless of where I’ve been, I’m almost always left with the sense that at their core, people are very similar no matter where they live. We’re all just plodding through our respective lives trying to do the best that we can.” – Tara Odorizzi, Senior Designer


“The one thing that took me by pleasant surprise when I visited Japan was their thoughtfulness and eye for detail. From the delicate sushi creations made by a precise flicker of hands, to the meticulous, yet endearing gift wrapping of every purchase, to the crisp, tiny paper crane perched inside my bento box, the people of Japan constantly impressed me — they really knew how to go the extra mile to make every experience (big or small) special. When it comes to design, it’s easy to develop a tendency to crank out something generic and one-dimensional, especially with unforgiving timelines. Witnessing Japan’s pride in their work and services was a huge reminder that all you need to elevate an ordinary experience is a little heart and a push in your creativity. Even when you feel like some details are trivial and seemingly transparent, someone will notice and appreciate the effort.” – Amanda Ortiz, Designer

“Two years ago, I challenged myself to book a one-way ticket to a place I’d never been to — that place turned out to be Taipei, and I stayed for one year. Taipei is a bustling, sub-tropical city abundant in foliage, mouth-watering street food and really, really nice people. I spent every possible moment taking long walks, getting lost and sketching (and stuffing myself with bubble tea and onion pancakes). I turned those sketches into a series of prints that serve as a small memento.” – Olenka Malarecka, Designer


“Before I came to the U.S. for college, I never knew how attached I was to nature. As a person, it relaxes me. As an artistic person, it inspires and motivates me. The experience is more than just exploring nature, it is a process of knowing ourselves. Therefore, with a curious and adventurous mind, I travel. While on a road trip through the Pacific Northwest, California, and eventually traveling eastward, I found one of my favorite things to do was sit in the car and watch the colors change as I passed through different landscapes. As a designer it awakened my creative senses. One of my favorite places I passed through was Antelope Canyon. You would never find this place without a guide — on the outside it is all stones and dirt, but on the inside I was pulled into an entirely different world. A small amount of light went through the narrow gaps of the canyon to reveal rich orange, red and purple stones. Lines and shapes of color appeared layer by layer, creating fluid shapes and movements that were ever-changing.. It was while in the canyon that I felt my connection to nature. Designers are thinkers, we create things from our minds, and knowing where my true connection lies inspires my work.” – Wanjiao Fu, Design Intern


“Moving from France to San Francisco has been my biggest adventure and my most meaningful ‘trip’. After 5 years I am still smitten with what I see here. I have found that I have become more sensitive to nature and the environment as I got hooked on surfing and surf photography. I don’t feel as though anything in this city is routine as the possibilities seem like an endless horizon. Having photography as a side project from my everyday work has kept me motivated and inspired in the office. As my position is Director of Business Development, that outlet helps me feel more connected to my creative team. We all have a creative sense to some extent, and I use mine to transverse the different aspects of my life. My book, Cold Water Is Better, serves as a visual collection of my inspirations.” Claire Saccoccini, Director of Business Developmentclaire_collage


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