Travel by Design

Traveling is one of my favorite things to do, and I try to take as many trips as I can. Aside from being fun—and a great change of pace from an overly busy schedule—I also find that when I travel, I often discover fresh inspiration, new design ideas, and unique pieces to incorporate into my work.

When I was in Spain and Portugal last year, for example, I was struck by the stunning art and architecture, the flavorful cuisine, and the sincere friendliness of the people—there was beauty everywhere.



Art and Architecture

I toured the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia cathedral, the weight of its breathtaking ancient stonework and statues balanced by the soaring steeples and streams of rainbow light beaming down from stained glass windows.


The work of Antoni Gaudí, the most famous architect of the movement known as Catalan Modernism, was visible throughout the tour. Although he died in 1929, his vision was surprisingly ahead of its time. Gaudí's work is unique and individual, and largely inspired by what surrounded him—both nature and religion. He put a lot of thought into each and every detail of his designs.


It’s almost impossible not to be inspired by ancient works that are still so relevant today—and a reminder that great design can be at once modern and timeless.



I originally specialized in kitchen design before broadening my work spectrum, and I strongly believe that kitchens, and the meals we cook in them, are the heart of the home—there is a reason that guests tend to congregate there. Kitchens encourage warmth, community, intimacy, and sustenance. With that sentiment in mind (and because who doesn’t love food?), I try to take cooking lessons everywhere I travel so I can take the local flavors back home to San Francisco with me and share them with my own friends and family.


In Barcelona, for example, I learned to make paella and tortilla de patatas, a traditional Spanish egg and potato dish. In Portugal, we baked Pasteis de Nata, or egg tart pastries. The food throughout both countries was incredibly delicious—an interesting mix of traditional family recipes and refined modern cuisine.


Bringing Inspiration Home

The biggest design take away from my trip to Spain and Portugal was the way traditional and modern blended together so seamlessly. From the amazing street art I found spray-painted on ancient crumbling walls, to 300-year-old stone hotels that had been beautifully renovated but still retained their bones (with a nod to the original design), to small cafes and tapas bars that have stood for years, but are now serving exciting new takes on old favorites.


Since this trip, I’ve also been inspired to play with incorporating subtle old world pieces into modern design, which adds both depth and fresh energy to my projects.

Has a trip ever inspired you to try something new when designing your home? I’d love to hear about it!

Kimberly Larzelere

(415) 946-0780