Design Notes Archive

Travel by Design

Travel by Design

Summer is just around the corner and if you’re anything like us, you’re considering how to work a little design into your holiday. Recently, some American friends (editors from Veranda and Luxe magazines, a celebrated interiors stylist and several designers) spent 10 glorious days in India, shopping and sightseeing around Rajasthan with Tamam Travel—an offshoot of the East Village NY boutique devoted to Turkish goods. Turkish did we say? Indeed! Founded by Clare Louise Frost, Elizabeth Hewitt and Hüseyin Kaplan, the trio regularly take clients around Istanbul, Konya and Cappadocia (the next such trip is slated for October). But this most recent romp was through India, where Elizabeth’s textiles business Tulu is based. Between the sights, the group stopped at design-driven destinations including Barbara Miolini and Marie-Anne Oudejans' new Villa Palladio (a mere 12 km from the famed Bar Palladio), Thierry Journo’s Idli, and Ecru’s magical Jaipur bungalow. Consider these destinations if Rajasthan is on your list this year, or message South African interior designer Serena Crawford. She’s about to take a group around the Cotswolds in June, in partnership with members-only travel firm Indagare, but she’s also in the midst of planning a private group tour through India in November. You can find out details, she says, by following her Instagram handle @serenacrawfordtravel and email her if you're interested.

Also partnering up with Indagare, around the same time the Tamam group was in India, was Architectural Digest’s Global Interiors and Garden Editor Alison Levasseur. Her group was on the opposite side of the globe experiencing the incredible artisan crafts on offer in the Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende. The city is a favourite among design insiders—Casa Midy is based there, Frederick magazine’s Design Director Eugenia Soto was married there, and interior designer Michelle Nussbaumer hosted Levasseur’s group for dinner at her home there. Levasseur and Indagare will be hosting another such jaunt next month, this time in Marrakech and Tangier.

But if Mexico is on your radar, traveller’s club Prior is planning a trip to the crafts-hub of Oaxaca once the heat subsides in the fall. Check out Balineum Design Notes from August 2022 for more details on this vibrant city. If Morocco is more your speed, consider signing up for one of interior designer Gavin Houghton’s artist retreats at his home in Tangier. He and artist Joan Hecktermann will co-host a series of minibreaks over 4 days in May, June and following the August sizzle. There’s charcoal drawing, pencil sketching in town, watercolour still lifes at his home, and “on the last day, life drawing with any medium you like, which is great fun,” he says. No artistic experience necessary and there’s plenty of time for shopping. On a side note, Houghton recently started taking commissions for painted tiles, designing splashbacks of any size. “I’m just about to paint myself quite a big one with figures inspired by the erotic drawing by Duncan Grant at Charleston Farm,” he says. Email him for commissions. These are produced from his kiln in London but he’s looking into putting a kiln in the Tangier house for future endeavors.

In the meantime, if it’s a ceramics retreat you’re after, look no further than the Prince of Sun, aka Dominique CJ Masullo. What began just last year has grown into TravelLoving, a series of Italian retreats catering to various passions, be it wine, food, wellness or ceramics. “I carefully choose the locations in places where the traveler can discover the culture, nature, and traditions of an authentic Italy, untouched by mass tourism,” he says. “For me it is a way to stimulate people through the experiences that have stimulated me.” There are still spots left in the upcoming ceramics retreat in Isola del Giglio, 26 May – 2 June. Or you can assemble your own group, at least four people, and reach out to organize a private visit. Like Houghton’s, no experience necessary and there’s plenty of time to explore the surrounding area. 

If you’d rather shop for ceramics than make them yourself, consider joining interior designer Kathryn Ireland at her famed country house, La Castellane, in the rural French town of Tarn-et-Garonne. She’s been hosting guests at her home every June since 2012 and activities include antiquing guided by her well-honed eye, lessons in decorating and feasts galore. There are still a few spaces left so message her quickly if you want in. Or if Paris is more your cup of tea, she’ll be taking a group there in September. That said, given the rise in shipping costs, she does advise guests buy things that can be packed and/or shipped by air. “Nothing breakable!” she advises, though we’ve certainly carted all sorts of fragiles home in our carry-on bags.

Nearby in Cordes-sur-Ciel, Australian stylist and founder of interiors shop The Society Inc., Sibella Court, will be guiding travellers through the country markets and brocantes in collaboration with French General late next month. That trip is fully booked but do sign up for her newsletter to be alerted of others (last fall she took a group through Egypt in partnership with Prior which looked stunning). Or if Provence is on your wish list, Ajiri Aki, founder of Madame de la Maison, will be hosting a retreat there in September. Guests will spend a week at a hilltop villa in Gordes and explore the surrounding villages.

Finally, if a staycation is more on the cards, look no further than our neighbors in Ireland. World of Interiors contributing editor Cosmo Brockway will be hosting a tour of stately houses & gardens there next month and again in June. Some of the most trusted design inspiration after all, comes from looking back at historic properties like these. 

Photographs © Tamam Travel; Prince of Sun; Kathryn Ireland