Camille Walala

‘I had been to Mexico for work about three years ago without many expectations, but fell completely in love and couldn’t wait to go back. Returning in February for a holiday, I knew that I wanted to meet makers, designers, architects and craftspeople, but it was also a kind of architectural pilgrimage to see buildings by Luis Barragán and Ricardo Legorreta.

camille walala in mexico city
Camille Walala
camille walala in mexico city
Camille Walala

Every corner of Mexico City is total eye candy – the colour and pattern are so varied and totally vibrant. I felt like a kid in a candy store!

Above all, it was the personal connections I made there that moved me the most – the incredible varied craft of the artists and artisans just blew me away. Drawing and painting in my sketchbook became part of my morning ritual. The inspiration is in the air there.’

Hannah Plumb and James Russell

‘In Tripoli, the site of Oscar Niemeyer’s International Fair blew our minds. It was designed by the Brazilian architect in 1963 but abandoned – and never completed – due to civil war breaking out in 1975. Entering the Enclosed Theatre was like walking on the moon – a breathtaking experience that cemented our appreciation of reinforced steel and concrete. Our goal is to have an exhibition there!’

dome shaped theatre designed by oscar niemeyer in tripoli, lebanon
Eric Lafforgue / Art in All of Us

Jonathan Saunders

‘A year ago, I planned a two-month research trip to Japan – something that I’d always wanted to do. My partner Justin and I went together, visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, Naoshima and Teshima Islands and Mount Fuji. It was a visual overload from start to finish, coupled with an abundance of my other passion: incredible food.

tokyo street scene, japan
Bantersnaps / Unsplash
tubular stool by jonathan saunders
Jonathan Saunders

Tokyo is a hive of people, culture, colours, sights and smells; Kyoto is serene and steeped in history; and the islands of Naoshima and Teshima house the most incredible gallery spaces that I’ve ever seen. There is so much astonishing art, craftsmanship and futuristic design across Japan, but I think one of its most fascinating aspects is that even the otherwise mundane and everyday are inspiring. The road signs, the traffic lights, labourers’ workwear – everything is designed in such a balanced way.

There is simply so much beauty everywhere. The colour balance and material choices that you see throughout Japan were the main inspiration behind my first furniture collection.’

Bethan Laura Wood

‘I discovered the New Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe purely by chance on a work trip to Mexico in 2013, when the driver who was taking me to the pyramids asked me if I’d like to visit the sacred shroud. I said, ‘Why not?’

bethan laura wood at the new basilica of our lady of guadalupe
Wendy Connett
guadalupe vase by bethan laura wood for bitossi
Cinelli Silvano

When I saw the windows, I immediately thought, “I want to do something based on this.” First, I created a one-off piece in appliqué with Kvadrat, then the Guadalupe vases with Bitossi and the Mono Mania Mexico show with Moroso, all as a result of this ongoing obsession I had with the pattern of these windows, and how it could be translated in different ways.

I revisited the church in 2018 with people from my studio and there was so much that I hadn’t seen the first time. Just looking at the windows from a different perspective and combining them with other elements of the architecture led to a whole new series of photographs.’

Rhonda Drakeford

‘I first visited Lanzarote about 15 years ago on a pilgrimage to see the spaces that architect, artist and all-round polymath César Manrique had created, and I’ve returned so many times I’ve lost count. It's a volcanic island off the coast of Africa with powerful lunar-esque landscapes and roads ironed out of the black rock.

volcano house by cesar manrique in lanzarote
Michael Runkel / Robert Harding

Manrique spent 30 years creating cultural landmarks that embraced the black lava rock and huge boulders covering most of his native island, painting sections in thick white gloss and adding primary coloured textiles, local terracotta pottery and green foliage. There’s a slightly Bond-villain style to his aesthetic that’s very of its time, but his spaces are completely unique, like a sort of organic Brutalism.

You see him everywhere, most joyfully on many roundabouts housing kinetic sculptures that move with the Atlantic winds. I returned so inspired I clad my bathroom in black slate, filling it with foliage. Manrique and these landscapes influenced Darkroom and our original black-walled store fit-out.’

Ini Archibong

‘In Milan during the Salone del Mobile last year, together with Erica Boginsky of Friedman Benda Gallery, I met with the owner of Henraux marble, Paolo. We drove to Forte dei Marmi to see his quarry on Monte Altissimo near Lake Garda. We used some of that stone for the ‘Obelisk’ piece which Friedman Benda exhibited at in Shanghai later that year.

ini and archie archibong at the henraux marble quarry, italy
Ini Archibong

For Statuario marble, there’s arguably no better place to go – plus Paolo is a great guy! We went back to Forte that summer to hang out with him for a holiday and my brother Archie’s birthday. I love it there– the beaches and mountains are amazing.’

Bethan Gray

‘Last year I took a three-month trip with my partner Massimo and our son Cian, travelling to China, Vietnam, New Zealand, Australia, Oman, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

massimo and cian on the beach in omaha, new zealand
Bethan Gray

After staying in a series of big cities, the nature and fresh air of New Zealand was such a tonic. We went to Omaha for a beach holiday, an hour north of Auckland, and rented a bach; seaside homes that are all about indoor/outdoor living and enjoying the views.

shells from the beach in omaha, new zealand
Bethan Gray

Every day, we’d go to this amazing crescent-shaped beach. I’ve never seen so many scallop shells in my life, so big and in every colour imaginable. It was like a treasure trove – we just went up and down beachcombing and collecting. While we were there it was Massimo’s birthday, so I drew a shell for his card as a memento.’

Lee Broom

‘I travel to New York a lot for business and it’s one of my favourite places in the world to simply wander the streets and discover new and intriguing hidden spots. On one of my first visits I fell in love with Elizabeth Street Garden in Nolita.

elizabeth street gardens in nolita, new york
Joseph Reiver / Elizabeth Street Gardens

With its dilapidated statues, gravel floor and overgrown foliage, it’s like stepping back in time – made all the more surreal by its urban surroundings. It most certainly inspired some of the ideas around my Park Life exhibition in Australia, where we created a modernist take on an 18th-century maze.

It’s constantly under threat from developers, as are many of the community gardens in New York, which is a crying shame given their importance in the fabric of life in the city.’

Kelly Wearstler

‘Lisbon had been on my bucket list for some time. I was so intrigued by the culture, architecture, history, design and the incredible tiles that are plastered all over the city – the cobblestone patterned sidewalks against the mélange of architecture is breathtaking.

kelly wearstler by tiled walled in lisbon
Kelly Wearstler

I went to the spectacular National Tile Museum, and while exploring various galleries and artisanal shops came across a unique collection of vintage Portuguese tiles at a small family-owned store called Cortico & Netos.

I thought they would be perfect for The Peacock, a Mediterranean restaurant I was designing for Austin Proper Hotel. We had to be creative and design a mosaic patchwork on the wall, as often we only had 10 pieces per pattern.’

Adam Nathaniel Furman

‘One needs a lifetime to digest all the stimuli that you come across in India. I’d always wanted to visit, and last September joined my boyfriend on his sabbatical to travel all around Rajasthan.

ornate architecture in rajasthan, northern india
Adam Nathaniel Furman

I was hugely inspired by the way in which everyday spaces and objects are decorated by their owners, from painted bikes, trucks, jugs and jars to their houses’ elevations. It was a wonderful infusion of joyous energy and positivity.

I kept coming across scenes that I wanted to just sit down and draw, but there was so little time as there were so many fascinating things – houses, markets, religious sites, objects, clothes, plates, food – that I ended up taking thousands of photos, which I now delve into just for pleasure.

Lara Bohinc

‘The city that I've missed the most is Venice. It's the place I associate most with art and crafts, friends and fun times, and it’s also where I did my Bauer art residency, in Murano. It's a city with no cars, surrounded by water and beauty everywhere you look. I've visited Venice more than any other city in Europe – in my childhood and student days I went there regularly as it’s only a few hours’ drive from my hometown of Ljubljana.

venice at sunset
Jack Ward / Unsplash

I’ve been to every Biennale in the last 15 years and – as I have friends living there – I go for Carnevale and Redentore (a party celebrating the end of plague) and birthdays and weddings. I have so many great memories from Venice!’

Philippe Malouin

‘When I wanted to visit my sister in Florence after a lovely holiday with friends in Puglia last summer, I decided to drive for the sole reason that I could stop at Hotel Parco dei Principi on the way. It has to be my favourite hotel – not only because it’s designed by Gio Ponti and has been preserved since opening, but the views are stunning and the atmosphere calm and chic. It’s so rare to find genuine places like this.’

hotel parco dei principi sorrento

Kirsty Thomas

‘I find the Joan Miró Workshop & Foundation so inspirational. The site is home to his Mallorcan mid-century studio, as well as a huge collection of his work, housed in an outstanding architectural space and across beautiful gardens with a view over the Mediterranean.

studio at the joan miro foundation in palma de mallorca
Andy Arthur / Alamy

The studio, designed by Josep Lluís Sert, is an exciting modernist building set up as if Miró has just popped out for lunch – it’s full of tools, trinkets, sketches and artefacts.

Miró’s sense of scale, exploration of colour and line and his bold use of space have pushed me to be braver in my compositions and made me excited to explore a more minimal way of working. I can see his influence in my Balance triptych and Shipwreck series of prints.’

Roksanda Ilinčić

‘I have been going to Montenegro since I was a child, and it’s somewhere that will always inspire me. Visually, it has the most incredible natural beauty, full of contrasts – dense and shady forests, mountains and the stunning coastline and emerald waters.

karuc village by lake skadar in montenegro
Ines Wiehle

Dotted around are some beautiful must-see spots from Queen’s Beach in Sveti Stefan and old town Perast to Lake Skadar and Ada Bojana island. The local markets are always filled with delicious produce like my favourite pink tomatoes. Life there is vibrant, untouched and extremely restorative. It’s when I’m most relaxed – and away from distractions – that the fresh ideas start flowing.’

John Booth

‘I had been to Japan once before on a work trip, painting leather bags in Tokyo for Fendi, and returned last November for a 10-day trip by myself. I went to Osaka for one night, which was great fun – I wish I’d stayed longer– then on to lovely relaxed Kobe by the sea to visit the Yokoo Tadanori Museum, which I’d recommend to any fans of his work. In Kyoto, I stumbled across amazing temples and saw geishas walking down rainy, deserted streets, before taking the bullet train to Tokyo.

busy osaka streets, japan
Chilam Siu / Unsplash
street in higashiyama, kyoto, japan
Eurasia / Robert Harding

I love how seriously Japanese people take playful things. There are so many fun visuals and details everywhere, but they’re combined with an impression of organisation and formality – it’s what makes Japan feel so unique. It’s an idea that’s directly inspired my work: just because something is playful and joyous, it doesn’t mean that it is any less well informed than something that appears to be more serious or traditional. @john_booth

Nika Zupanc

‘Brač Island has served as inspiration for many of my designs, from surfboards to my indoor furniture collection for Point, which is named after the region – Dalmatia. It’s beautiful, with untouched beaches and this strong wind, the Mistral, which is great for windsurfing.’

zlatni rat beach in brac, croatia
Simon Skafar
designer nika zupanc with surfboard
Nika Zupanc

‘I’ve envisioned a lot of projects on Brač’s beaches. For the surfboards, I wanted to create a sense of contrast – it’s a beautiful thing when you’re standing on the board and you see the roses against this blue sea. They’re made of ecologically friendly material because I also believe in trying to keep the Adriatic Sea as clean as possible.’

Isabel Ettedgui

‘I have always wanted to sail through the Corinth Canal. Two summers ago I managed it with my best friend William Yeoward who also shared the dream. We set sail with Colin Orchard, Cath Kidston and Hugh Padgham and my daughter Gigi on an old boat I had restored. It felt very spiritual to cut through a land so ancient in a canal project envisaged by Emperor Nero. Now that William is no longer with us I cherish the memory even more.’

boat sailing the corinth canal in greece
Isabel Ettedgui

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration July 2020

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