“Where do you get your inspiration these days?”
This question was put to me and several other designers at a function recently. Magazines have truthfully lost some of their flair in recent years, what with the wealth of online options. Pinterest was brought up as a source, but my colleague was fishing for something fresh. The other designers and I seems to lack freshness when put on the spot. Now I think I have my answer. While both Pinterest and magazines (the slim Contract magazine getting more of my attention than the gorgeous and much fatter Interior Design) do play a role I think there’s been something even more ingrained in my psyche.
I get my inspiration on “field trips.” At one time, when I was in school and studying abroad that meant literal field trips. My Danish Institute of Study Abroad program was huge on visiting the sites of great architecture and seeing it for yourself. Even more so; they were huge on not just taking your own pictures and seeing the places with your own eyes, but drawing it for yourself. What I learned that summer and what I took away from that program changed the way I have approached design since. (I would highly recommend the program to any students). When I returned home I spent extra time to visit places related to my projects and get my feet and hands on the ground. There was a time (still in school and the year or so immediately after) where a staple of my purse was a small sketchbook.
My “field trips” now are more the spontaneous finds in my daily (and not so daily) travels. Today I don’t carry a notebook everywhere and sketch my observations, but I do have a smartphone. When I scroll through my pictures there I have a strange assortment of pictures that often include no people whatsoever. Photos of porcelain tiles, of building columns, of flower arrangements, of a cool combination of colors, of murals, of hotel room bathrooms and dozens of other things that make me happy to look at, remind me of ideas and help shape my latest projects. So I suggest to you to use your phone, not only for selfies and food shots, but to record the details of places as they inspire you.