Create a Warm and Memorable Travel-Inspired Interior
Pictured above on the left is David Trubridge’s Hinaki light fixture, available through Living Deep.
Sustainability and global inspiration represent two major 2021 interior design trends. Few designers mesh the two as flawlessly and enduringly as furniture and lighting designer David Trubridge. With even his earliest work inspired by nature and successive designs delving further into his travels and respect for the environment, Trubridge has long been hailed as an activist for sustainability advancements in the industry. While others might take a while to catch up, Trubridge has aggressively and passionately rejected harmful materials like plastic in recent years -- going so far as to eliminate them from his lighting collections in favor of organic materials like bamboo. With popular opinion about fast furniture, fashion and decor changing amongst consumers, Trubridge’s work will likely continue to set sustainability standards for other designers. Consumers became even more concerned about the environmental impact of their purchases -- and disposals -- in 2020 when home and planetary health forcefully emerged in light of the pandemic and a number of natural disasters. Though the pandemic breathed new life into our conversations about healthy, eco-friendly materials for the home, it also put the kibosh on the majority of planned travel. Thus, in 2021, globally-inspired interiors -- filled with allusions to previous trips or plans for future travel -- are expected to explode in popularity across the US and abroad. Follow below for more about David Trubridge and how to create a travel-inspired interior at home.
Background on David Trubridge
Trubridge’s Beginnings in Design
David Trubridge’s life and career are both rooted in preservation of culture, history and the natural environment. According to the designer’s bio, in 1973, Trubridge purchased ruins in northern England, planning to restore the structures while honoring them. It was during this period in the early ‘70s that Trubridge harnessed his background in architecture and expanded upon it by learning traditional building techniques. In 1976, Trubridge completed a second restoration across the property, “an old barn called Dykehead…[which Trubridge] renovated and turned into a workshop.” As described in the bio, “it was in this new workshop that David taught himself to make furniture.” Trubridge’s exploration of furniture-making applied the skills he learned while restoring the ruins and renovating the barn. It was in learning these two parallel crafts that his “love of wood and nature” grew. In the early 1980s, Trubridge and his young family decided to pack up shop and buy a boat -- upon which they traveled across the Atlantic and throughout the Pacific, docking against various islands.
David Trubridge’s Kina Light Fixture is available through Living Deep.
On Morea -- an island off the coast of Greece -- Trubridge set up a workshop and crafted furniture inspired by local traditions and available materials. It was during this period in the late 1980s that Trubridge’s design vision began to evolve towards more innovative and cutting-edge techniques and silhouettes. Once Trubridge and his family had established a home in New Zealand, Trubridge began reflecting upon his adventures in the Pacific, creating iconic furniture pieces like the Sail Chair. His work increasingly came to reference nature -- particularly the ocean and the freedom it represented for Trubridge and his family. Thus emerged the Raft Series, the pièce de résistance of which was the Body Raft.
Recognition for Trubridge’s Work
In 2000, the Body Raft was displayed by Trubridge at the Milan Furniture Fair in Italy where “it was spotted by Giuliano Capellini and licensed to the Capellini collection. This discovery catapulted Trubridge into an international design career which -- increasingly influential on the approaches and products of designers around the world -- has always been hallmarked by his enduring respect for the natural world. Though in 1995, Trubridge created his first fixture -- the Hīnaki light -- in 2004, Trubridge made a more permanent turn towards lighting design, producing the iconic Coral light. Since then, Trubridge’s work has been repeatedly recognized -- from his 2007 receipt of the John Britten Award from New Zealand to the inclusion of his Icarus installation in the Pompidou Centre’s permanent collection in France. In 2016, Trubridge won “Exporter of the Year,” awarded by Hawke’s Bay for advancements in sustainability. Three years later, Trubridge was honored with the NZ Order of Merit for services to design.
David Trubridge’s Approach to Design
Sculptural, architectural and imbued with a strong sense of ethics -- from doubling down on environmental responsibility to fighting back against plagiarism in the industry -- David Impressively, his outspoken support for sustainability has inspired many design icons around the globe for over a decade. In 2012, the French architecture firm RDAI revealed that its new Hermès boutique in Paris was largely influenced by the ethos and aesthetics of David Trubridge’s Koura lamp. The Architecture AU article “David Trubridge Lamp Inspires Hermès” notes that Trubridge’s dedication to eco-conscious design and preservation efforts has captured the minds of many across Europe -- especially as they “draw inspiration from previously ignored cultural sources.” The article recognizes that Trubridge remains “dedicated to energy conservation, environmental sustainability and the conservation of wildlife.” Trubridge’s designs reflect the ethos of Living Deep. His commitment to eco-conscious design continues to make waves in the industry -- particularly when he swiftly pulled a series of plastic products from distribution in 2019.
David Trubridge’s Coral Light Fixture is available through Living Deep.
Today, Trubridge’s light fixtures are made only from organic, renewable materials that are processed and shipped responsibly. He and his company pay particular attention to the life of the products they release into the world, explains a recent article from Hawkes Bay Today. Quoting Trubridge, the article notes that “‘we are all responsible for the future’” and that both designers and consumers must be more conscientious of the effects constant production and consumption have on the planet. Trubridge elaborates, explaining that “‘designers must think about materiality and life-span.’” They must ask themselves what they are designing, how long “‘it will be relevant,’” and what happens to each piece “‘when its discarded.’”
Understanding the Travel-Inspired Interior Design Trend
Kate Reggev explains why globally-inspired interiors are so on-trend right now in her article “6 Predictions for Design’s Big Trends in 2021” for Architectural Digest. Reggev writes that travel-inspired interiors often represent the homeowner’s experiences, memories and hopes for the future. Over the last year, homeowners have turned towards redecorating as a way to make their homes more personal and more diversely functional for the long periods of time during which we were all stuck inside due to the pandemic. As such, the globally-inspired interiors trend has arisen from this growing desire amongst homeowners to “communicate and express themselves.” In 2021, residents are expected to continue to seek out “ways to show their personalities in every corner of their home.” From a diverse art collection assembled over years of globe-trotting to wallpapers and textiles ordered from artisans in favored destinations, homeowners are trying to create spaces that “represent who [they] are.”
3 Steps: How to Create a Travel-Inspired Space without Skewing Tacky
In her article “Travel-Inspired Interior Design: On Bringing The Joys Of Travel Home” for Forbes, Irene S. Levine discusses the global interiors trend and renewed interest in sustainability with award-winning architect and interior designer Carol Kurth, FAIA, ASID. As the principal architect of Carol Kurth Architecture + Interiors in Bedford, New York, Kurth herself travels the globe sourcing products and designing for clients. Quoting Kurth, Levine explains the parallels between design and travel. Kurth notes that “‘architecture and design are similar to travel in the sense that they can go beyond the physical.’” She continues on to explain that “‘there is an emotional connection that engages the senses, transcending time and place.’”
A homeowner hoping to redecorate their home to “memorialize their travels” might imagine the only way to do so is quite literally. Oftentimes, these exact replicas or otherwise “themed” spaces can skew tacky. Homeowners can avoid this, notes Kurth, by taking inspiration from “a specific memento,” allowing that piece to inform the color palette, textures and flow within a room. Keeping in mind the fact that one’s goal is not to replicate the physical elements of their travel destination, but rather to “emulate the feeling” one had in that place will help direct the design process.
#1 Determine the Right Amount of “Stuff”
It can be tempting to go to one extreme or another when redecorating -- either adopting a Marie Kondo approach or a loud maximalist one. However, one should avoid both stuffing their space with unrelated items and clearing away all but a few key pieces placed on pedestals. Travel-inspired interiors are typically intended to evoke the sense of adventure and/or enrichment one felt while touring the destination from which they have drawn inspiration. As such, be sure to choose pieces that create this series of emotions -- stopping when the desired atmosphere has been established rather than when one has either run out of stuff or spaced out items perfectly. When determining what should stay and what should go, remember that your home should always be simultaneously livable and sentimental.
A livable space should not be clinical or purely for display -- it should also be functional. On the other hand, too much stuff that has no meaning detracts from the space’s message. Consider the advice of designers Tom Stringer and Kerry Joyce, quoted by Hadley Keller in her article “Why These Designers Say You Should Embrace Clutter” for House Beautiful. Stringer notes that “‘design is storytelling, and the objects in an interior should add to that narrative.’" Everything in our homes should be either useful or special, notes Stringer. They should “‘tell something about who we are, our past, or where we're headed,’" which is exactly what travel-inspired spaces offer. Kerry echoes Stringer’s sentiment, explaining that “‘if the clutter has no memory, it's clutter; if it has memory, it's not clutter.’"
#2 Create Atmosphere Through Lighting
To complement the varied textures, tones and styles of your globally-inspired home decor, be sure to layer lighting throughout the space. Consider shades like those by David Trubridge that strike a distinctly modern note while filtering and scattering light in a soft, romantic way. The gentle light from Trubridge fixtures will honor and illuminate each piece from your travels without washing them out or flattening the entire space. Be sure to light the space at all levels -- placing table lamps, wall lights, pendant lights and more around the room. One can add texture to the space by filtering light through several sets of window treatments, as pictured above. To bounce light around the space more dramatically, consider a metallic wallpaper or high-shine wall paint. For displaying individual items, make sure not to spot light each piece too directly. Not only does spotlighting aim harsh light too intensely at the potentially delicate surface of a collectible or art piece, but it also disrupts the room’s harmony and atmosphere.
Go the safe and sustainable route by choosing LEDs instead of fluorescent, incandescent or halogen bulbs. The belief that LED bulbs always emit blue light rather than warmer colors like yellow, orange or red is actually a misconception. There are many warm-toned LEDs on the market today, so swap out dangerous high-heat halogens and harsh fluorescents for energy-saving LEDs. If your globally-inspired interior includes artwork -- particularly textiles, watercolors and works on paper -- or antique furniture, be sure to follow museum-grade lighting recommendations, keeping light dim and diffused and limiting unfiltered natural light exposure.
#3 Mix Old with New -- Both Inspired By Your Travels
Create depth and interest, honor history and stay current all at once by mixing old pieces with new materials. Caleb Anderson -- of New York design studio Drake/Anderson -- explains in an article for House Beautiful that “old and new belong together.” Truly, notes Anderson, “a mix of modern pieces and antiques never tires.” In this context, mixing old and new might mean displaying a few first edition books from your chosen destination on the same bookshelf which houses fresh flowers endemic to the region you love. On the other hand, it might mean pairing antique hardware with sleek contemporary cabinets.
Further still, it could mean topping the armchair you purchased from your favorite local artisan last weekend with vintage textiles. Balancing the antique with the contemporary will help establish a sense of living history within your home that often emanates from a special destination and makes us long to return. Better still, complementing the contemporary pieces in your home with antique and vintage elements is a sustainable way to change up your home’s decor while making it feel more authentic to your personality and that of the place you are hoping to channel.