From the Archives: Thinking outside the box

I recently took a trip with my husband Eduardo to Europe and I can’t even begin to tell you how incredibly enriching the colours, the sights, the sounds and the interiors were!

I find that with design and interiors we often have a structured concept that we believe works and we emulate those looks over and over again. This does work in theory, but perhaps the greatest learning I gained from my European trip was to take a leap of faith and begin to think a little differently in my approach to design.

From classic, to industrial, to modern, the sights of the cities we were lucky enough to explore took my breath away time and time again.

We first visited Amsterdam. There were so many things that I fell in love with. The colours and the way the modern furniture perfectly assimilated with the old historic buildings. We visited the public library which felt like the antithesis of Holland. Everywhere you go they sell books. It’s all about embracing culture, information and taking the time out to read. The building was just exquisite. They also cater so well for children, further encouraging culture, knowledge and embracing both the old and the new.

Everywhere I looked, the details continued to inspire me. The doors, the flowers, the beautiful windows, and each room, all decorated with some type of artwork. The balance between modern and classic seemed to be perfect everywhere we went. It became very obvious that the Dutch know how to do small details really well.

I quickly remembered my passion for doors. The brass details and the way they welcome you in to each home. Every window had fresh flowers and drew you in to the artwork, and the personalities, that lived inside. It also felt like each door told you a little bit about those who live in that home.

The beautiful green chairs in the Hotel Pulitzer, contrasted against the dark floors and marble bars, made you want to sit a while in the beautiful surrounds and take everything in.

We then made our way to Rotterdam, which in stark contrast, was filled with the new! Sadly, almost everything was destroyed in the war but even so you could see that the modern architecture and interiors had been shaped by history.

We went to the cinema, which was unlike any cinema that I had ever been too. The design was beautiful and functional as you could have a dinner and drinks before your movie in a gorgeous building.

Everywhere you look design is original and sometimes eccentric. This ceiling below full of painted food and flowers was breathtaking. Above it are apartments that can be seen through those small windows in the ceiling, allowing the people in them to have an exclusive view of the passers by below. 

We then moved on to the rich historical city of Rome. It was my first time to this beautiful city and it almost made me cry when I experienced it for the first time. The architecture that has stood for so many years is the best example of design done right. We went out to explore at 6am before the crowds of tourists lined up to take their photos. It was such a special experience. I stood on my own in so many famous spots, every time amazed at the beauty in front of my eyes.  

One restaurant that we ate in had small toy cars in the middle of the table. I was told later that the cars are an invitation to the customer to relive the excitement, curiosity, and wonder of childhood again. This was a perfect analogy of how I felt when I was in Rome. I felt as if I’d stepped into another time and my curiosity, wonder, and need for adventure in this beautiful city had overtaken me.  

In Milan we stepped back from the deep history of Rome and appreciated the new. Every place we visited had dark or light decor, there never appeared to be anything in between. From the moment you arrived via train, you understood that Milan radiated luxury. From the shopping to the modern decor and designer brands, you felt as if you’d stepped into an extravagant place. We visited the exquisite Missoni store, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, and the Armani Hotel, whose interiors took my breath away. I also visited high-end fabric store Dedar. I could have spent hours looking through the gorgeous fabrics.  

The last city we visited was Florence, home to many pieces of great Renaissance art and architecture. The historical buildings that have stood the test of time draw you in and fix your attention on the beauty that is Florence. The oldest and perhaps most famous bridge, the Ponto Vecchio, stands over the river Arno. It is a beautiful work of art in itself. I couldn’t help but take a few photos of the classic, elegant, and wonderful that surrounds you in Florence.