Few experiences expand the mind as much as traveling to foreign countries. Observing different cultures, architectural styles and designs are always a great inspiration to us as design professionals.
Influence in the USA
The United States has a 400-year history, beginning with the pilgrims landing in 1620. However, many European countries are much older. Consider Versailles, the country home of French Kings; it was built around the time the pilgrims landed on the North American continent. While the Renaissance began nearly 300 years before the pilgrims landed. The Roman Empire began over 2000 years ago. It’s no wonder that these foreign cultures can be a wealth of design ideas.
In the United States, the countries that have influenced the design of interiors and architecture the most are Greece, Italy, France, and England. They influenced our architecture, our sense of scale, proportions, and style. They were an inspiration for American interiors and architecture.
Since we are the most familiar with Italy, we’ll use that country as an example. Ancient cities like Rome, Florence, Siena, Lucca, and Pisa can overwhelm one with inspiration. You only need to look around, no matter where you look you’ll see something extraordinary. There is practically a church on every street; historically, these are some of the most special spaces because there’s a lot of time and money invested in them.
Every street and block will have something worth seeing. Look down and you’ll notice stone patterns in the streets. Look up and you’ll see incredible architecture and detailing. Indoors, you’ll see tile and marble floors, very ornate ceilings, arches, plaster moldings, and elaborately painted ceilings.
While some of these spaces can be overwhelming to the layperson, designers know how to edit and take a small sample of an interior and apply it to modern-day interiors. Just as every artist has looked to artists before them, history influences all great architects and designers.
In Our Own Backyard
In our own city of Philadelphia, there is a former bank (now The Ritz Carlton hotel) whose lobbies ceiling is inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. Buildings in Washington D.C. have a lot of Greek and Roman architectural references. Older northeast cities in America have architecture inspired by Europe. Newport, Rhode Island, is one example. The key to enjoying travel in older foreign countries is to look everywhere, notice everything, and to take lots of pictures because often you don’t see the details until you look back at your photos. Most of all when traveling to foreign lands, keep an open mind and a positive attitude. These cities are old and not as new as American cities and the people who live in them have a much more relaxed way of life. But if you are open to it, you’ll see a lot of brilliant ideas and have a lot of fun.
WPL Interior Design encourages our clients to use travel as an inspiration, whether it be from past adventures or one you’re looking forward to in the future. However, we also know travel is a luxury and not everyone has the time to pick up and go whenever they want! But you can still find a lot of travel inspiration online and bring those influences into your own home. We encourage our clients to find photos of rooms, furnishings, and styles they like during our design process so that we can incorporate that into your final aesthetic.