Europe Design Inspiration
Earlier this spring, I was able to take a two-week trip that revitalized my designer’s soul through London, York, Edinburgh, Vienna, Rome, and Tuscany. If you have ever had the fortunate ability to travel abroad you know that stepping out from the London Tube or out onto the street from a cab is transformative. You begin to absorb your surroundings and start to notice the similarities and differences from everyday life in the States, some of which make the world feel smaller and more closely knitted together. I could probably babble on for a doctoral dissertation on all the nuances I observed, but in the interest of keeping this a blog post, here are the things that inspired me from this life-reaffirming trip:
Layering Visual Design:
Visually, I was very impressed with London. The city has been around for almost two thousand years and didn't feel like it had random visual clutter. In fact, and this ties into retail design, the layering of visual design, whether it was finishes or graphics or color all felt cohesive. Whether this was on purpose or by happenstance, it still made me think about how I could achieve this with some of my own projects.
Bold Street Art:
Another visual element that reappeared in London, Edinburgh and Vienna was the street art. It was everywhere, and it was beautiful. A lot of times we see street art as graffiti or tagging, and while there was some of that in these cities, this art was more about expression and it was actually embraced by the city. Vienna actually had a place specifically for local artists to place their work on walls and steps.
Humor that Pushes the Boundaries:
Edinburgh and Vienna also had humor to their graphics, some of which pushed social vocabulary boundaries that I think people in the United States are afraid to challenge. It made me think about branding and how our core values can all be so similar at times, meaning we most want to be “connected, unique, and innovative.” While those are all well and good, what do they mean? The use of humor brings more personality to these cities, and through it made me want to bring more personality to the spaces I help to brand.
Impactful Material Combinations:
My travels are always a master class in retail design. Obviously, I notice culture and history as well, but as a designer, I tend to take pictures of floors and storefronts when I am out and about. In terms of retail design, I was really inspired by how well multiple patterns were layered into one space. As space is a premium in older cities, you can imagine how much impact a retailer would want to make given their smaller square footage. This idea is not something necessarily new, but it’s striking; often times I feel the need to have a much larger space to pull off this much material change. The effect of the material combination also infused hospitality design elements into retail spaces.
Rome retail was also inspirational, but in this case, it was all about the storefront. Rome's storefronts almost became magazine-like in their composition so that when you look at them they seem a bit surreal. What I loved about this is that it was less about product and more about an experience.
Beyond that, it is always just great to get away from the expected and see some things you might not normally see. Here are a few other inspirational items to give your day a little extra pep:
by Mark Bryan
Associate, Senior Interior Designer
Mark is an energetic, creative and dedicated environmental graphics and interior designer at M+A. His favorite sports team is his alma mater: Virginia Tech University.