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September 9, 2016

A Timeless Trip

A Family Trip Reveals the Roots of Great Design

Do you ever come back from a vacation feeling like you need a vacation? We recently disembarked from a fabulous trip on the Silversea‘s Silver Spirit ship. The trip was so easy to plan using the travel planners at Inspirato! Our itinerary was brimming with activities every day to ensure we saw as much as possible, which we definitely did. We hit – Venice, Taormina, Florence, Pompeii, Capri, Sorrento and Rome in Italy; Dubrovnik in Croatia; and Kotor in Montenegro!!! Having our days packed with sightseeing, it was a welcome respite to arrive back on the boat at night to recharge for the next day.

Silverseas Cruise

As with any (and maybe all) family vacations, each member of the family comes away with their very own favorite part of the trip. For my kids, ages 10 and 12, they loved the independence and the instant group of friends that comes with being on a cruise ship. For my husband the history buff, he was easy to please, each tour guide was a new fountain to quench his thirst for historical references and facts. And, for me – I loved seeing the birthplace of classic design. It made me appreciate the influence ancient cultures still have on modern design. The patterns, shapes, and color palettes are all so relevant. I am in awe of the craftsmanship that lasted through volcanos, wars, generations of daily life, and still stands.

Below is a photo of my family in front of a relative newcomer in Florence. Construction of the Duomo began in 1294 and was finally completed in 1887. The green (Prato), pink (Siena) and white (Carrara) marble on the exterior creates an intricate but somehow minimalist pattern. I see references to modern styles in the striping, bordering and color block detailing all around the cathedral.

Family Travel - Duomo in Florence, Italy

A walk inside was a welcome relief from the summertime Italian sun and brought a flash of inspiration in the patterns that surrounded me. Looking around – the floors, the structural design, the architectural aspects are all reflected in 21st century design.

Florence, Duomo - Flooring and archways

Tiling became a central theme for me as we walked the roads, pathways and floors which countless people have tread. I loved seeing the care and attention to detail put into the construction of simple roads, home flooring and pathways that carried the traffic of everyday life. Here are a few spectacular examples: a 3-dimensional pattern from a home in Pompeii, square pinwheel pattern in a Montenegro town square, and chevron pattern on a path in the Coliseum.

Visiting ancient ruins puts you in touch with a civilization that thrived thousands of years ago and yet it is impossible not to feel a connection to the people that lived there. Imagining what life was like is not difficult given that there is so much modern context to the elements. The columns – doric, iconic and corinthian – remain the classic structural components or adornments in contemporary construction. Arches and domes are reflected in interior and exterior design. And, the timeless devotion to the human form in sculpture resonates in current art forms. All of these elements can be found while casually walking through the ruins in Pompeii, and the Forum and Coliseum in Rome.

Architectural Design Elements in Italy

And then there is color. The sky, the sea, the trees, the pastels of the buildings, the uniforms of the Swiss Guard at the Vatican, the laundry hanging on a line, the boats, the buildings – I am not sure if it’s the Mediterranean sun or the elixir of vacationing, but I found the colors to be captivating.

Color Palettes in Italy

Color Palettes in Italy

Color Palettes in Italy

Returning home is an adjustment in so many ways. Back to work, back to school, back to cooking my store-bought dried pasta which seems like it comes from a different food group than what we ate in Italy, back to having my family running in a million different directions as opposed to being right by my side. It is also back to looking at my work with a new eye and a renewed appreciation for the deep history of design. My objective as a designer has always been to create timeless style. From this trip, I learned how using classic details – patterns, shapes and colors can create design that will stand up to the test of time. I picked a few spaces that I thought had some reference to the elements I saw on my trip. I am certainly humbled by the profound greatness of the ancient architects, designers and craftsmen that had a vision which is still so relevant centuries later.

The exterior of this VGI designed home in collaboration with John James Architect, AIA has Iconic columns flanking the front entrance and the arching of the roofline above the front door are classical references.

Home Exterior

Valerie Grant Interiors

The window arches in this family room as well as the marble backsplash and countertops in the kitchen are a nod back to classic design.

Family Room Design

Valerie Grant Interiors

This wine cellar is clearly inspired by ancient storage rooms with the stone walls and the wood patterned flooring.

WIne Cellar Design

Valerie Grant Interiors

And, the tile patterns in a newly renovated home I am currently working on reflect classic influences.

Marble Tile Flooring

Valerie Grant Interiors

As with any great production :), I leave with you a collage of out-takes from this amazing trip that created timeless memories for my family and me.

Family Pictures from Italy Trip

Stay classic and travel well,

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