People

06.08.2011 | by: Meghan
People

Meet: Corine Vermeulen

Detroit, Michigan


Corine Vermeulen came to Detroit from the Netherlands to get her MFA from Cranbrook Institute of Art. After graduating, she was home only a few months before she decided to come back to Detroit for a visit. That was nearly seven years ago. Since then, Corine has been documenting everything from the post-industrial landscape of the city she now calls home to various inspired portrait series (like the photo essay she recently did for Time of teen moms fighting to save their school). An ongoing project, currently traveling in Colombia–the Detroit Mini Assembly Line–is based on Henry Ford’s industrial process and uses local labor and manufacturing tools to produce limited-edition books and catalogs. Below, a thoughtful Q&A with Corine about the importance of travel and how it has influenced her photography, as well as a selection of images of her travels and work, which she admits is most often a blurry distinction. “I travel to photograph,” she says.

Most meaningful/inspiring travel experience?
I was wandering around in a local market in Laos when my eyes settled on a old woman selling textiles. I strongly felt I had seen her before, but thought it absurd to recognize a native of a place I had never visited. I studied her from a distance, and then it hit me: I had seen her picture dozens of times flipping through my Lonely Planet Guidebook–the same Lonely Planet Guidebook I was at that moment carrying around with me. Awestruck by this small miracle of chance, I approached her gleefully to present her my find. As she stoically studied the photo, my instincts took charge. I retrieved my camera and had just enough time to click the shutter. My subject’s revenge was swift and decisive. Though she spoke no English, she fluently communicated her displeasure with my invasion of her privacy. She yelled at me loudly and hit me on the head with a most convenient weapon: the Lonely Planet guidebook.

How does travel influence your creativity/work?
It keeps my eyes fresh and my mind open. At least that’s what I hope it does.

What do you look for when you photograph?
I seem to be most attracted to things contradictory and the sense of confusion they create. For instance, as I’m writing this I’m in Colombia, and I just saw a guy driving a horse-drawn carriage. On the front of the carriage there was a rather large Nike swoosh, handmade out of wood. Something like that will instantly hit me with a feeling of both comedy and tragedy, and then my mind tends to linger somewhere in between. Once, while traveling in Asia, I saw a bicycle with a Mercedes-Benz logo soldered to the side of the frame. It was really well done and looked very much like an original part of the bicycle. So, if I get these strong mixed feelings about something I see, I know there’s something there. And the farther apart the emotions are, the more interesting it becomes. If I get to capture a sense of dichotomy within a single frame, I’m usually pretty excited.

Work that has been inspired by a travel experience?
Pretty much everything really… it’s all about taking myself outside of my own cultural context and being able to immerse in something else, immerse in a sense of otherness.

Most interesting place you’ve ever stayed?
My most interesting stay was on a ferry going from Tokyo to the island of Hokkaido. The ship was equipped with a traditional Sento–a communal bath house, located at the bottom level of the ship. With the daytime crowd asleep in their cabins, the bath was the ideal place to while away my own sleepless night. It had a large window overlooking the ocean, which ran flush with the water level of the bath tubs, blurring the line between the warm tub and the freezing ocean. As I floated between both worlds, the stunning simplicity and harmony of the Japanese design aesthetic accentuated the already surreal experience.

Most treasured belonging from a trip?
I’m quite a minimalist so I hardly ever buy or take anything back with me, other than photographs of course. But the one thing I did bring home with me (and it’s still with me now in my apartment in Detroit) is a Tibetan singing bowl. It’s made of copper and it has a wooden mallet. When you run the mallet over the rim of the bowl it starts singing. And when you strike the bowl on its side, it responds with a reverberating “TCHIINGGGGgggggggg…”

I got the singing bowl upon arrival in Mumbai, India. I traded it with a street vendor for my coat. The vendor seemed very pleased with the deal since the monetary value of the coat equaled at least 25 singing bowls. Likewise, I recognized the business sense of shedding the heavy down feather winter coat in 95 degree heat.

03.28.2011 | by: Meghan
People

Meet: Matthew Hranek

New York, New York

Matthew Hranek is a NYC-based photographer and the guy behind The William Brown Project–a blog dedicated to all his outdoorsy, meat-curing, bird-hunting, bourbon-swilling pursuits. When he’s not in the city or upstate New York tapping trees for sap or raising pigs for his homegrown charcuterie label of the same name, Matthew is likely traveling the world with his wife Yolanda and daughter for magazines like Travel + Leisure, Town & Country, and Garden & Gun. His approach to travel, not surprisingly, is authentic, food-focused and fiercely local.

Last trip? Kentucky—I went down to an antique show in Louisville, stuck around for the food, thrift store finds and bourbon.

Most meaningful travel experience? The open-air market in Hoi An. At 5am, it was 100 degrees. The sight, smells, and product were completely overwhelming—like nothing I’d ever seen before. Magical.

Why is travel important to you? I love the exploration. It doesn’t matter if it’s exotic or mundane, international or in my own backyard. I love collecting the experience.

What’s one thing you always try to do in a new place? It’s important to me to find whatever food is specific to the place. What’s local, what’s the take-away–that’s what I’m on the hunt for, In Louisville it was the small batch bourbons, and thrifting for Kentucky Derby glasses.

What do you look for in a trip? The excitement of the exposure to new things. Discovering the secret of the place.

Most interesting place you’ve ever stayed? I like old-school service, people who are committed to their jobs as hoteliers–I’ve found these places all over, but some of my favorites are The Sunset Tower in LA, the Aman in Phuket, the Baur au Lac in Zurich.

Favorite travel purchase? The list is endless, but: there was a grappa still brought back from Montepulciano, safari table and chairs from Kenya, the most perfect grooming implements from Milan, and many cured meats and cheeses that I managed to sneak past customs.

Next trip? I love Florida–maybe another trip to the Everglades.

03.01.2011 | by: Meghan
People

Meet: Jason Miller/Casa Dracula

When Brooklyn-based furniture and lighting designer Jason Milller told us the name of the most interesting place he’s ever stayed–Casa Dracula–we had to check it out. Turns out, this eccentric, old house in Todos Santos is not only pretty amazing to look at, it also comes with a good story. Built in 1852 by Don Antonio Domingues, Todos Santos’ first sugar baron, Casa Dracula gets its name from the arched Gothic windows along the brick facade (not an actual vampire). Although, according to local legend (ala the rental agency’s website), there is said to be treasure buried somewhere within the walls. Rent it at vrbo.com. Here, the rest of Jason’s interview about the importance of travel:

Most meaningful or inspiring travel experience? Spending a week in the Aeolian Islands in 2009. My girlfriend and I found out that we were going to become parents during the trip (no thanks to a faulty Aeolian-Island pregnancy test).

How does travel influence your work? I think it is very important to have perspective on one’s own culture. Travel provides great perspective. There is something thrilling when you show up in a new place and you don’t know how to buy a subway ride, get on a bus or order lunch. We take these simple things for granted at home, only because we have learned the the way to navigate our own small world.

What do you look for in a trip? Since I spend most of my time in New York, I more often than not, look for a bit of nature when I travel.

Most interesting place you’ve ever stayed? Casa Dracula, Todo Santos, Mexico. It was purchased by my girlfriend’s father and 3 friends in the early eighties. It is a former sugar storage facility in a small surf town north of Cabo San Lucas. My girlfriend and her family have been spending holidays there for 20-plus years.

Do you have a specific piece that was in some way inspired by travel? The Modo lamps were inspired by some vintage pieces I came across in California.

Most treasured travel purchase? A glass vase that i bought in a thrift store in Istanbul. It’s very odd.

02.07.2011 | by: Meghan
People

Meet: Bob Coscarelli and Karen Valentine

Chicago, Illinois

Bob Coscarelli is one of the most talented interior photographers in Chicago. He’s been shooting for CS Interiors since the first issue came out almost four years ago. In that time, I’ve been lucky enough to get to know his lovely wife Karen, who grew up Australia and keeps the blog Roam and Home about their Chicago-based food/design adventures as well as their more far-flung journeys. And there are plenty. Every time I talk to them, they’re preparing to embark on some exotic travel odyssey. Like the Orient-Express through Europe last summer, or their current trip-in-the-works: Africa’s wine country and a safari.

Most meaningful travel experience? All travel experiences are meaningful for us. Each is an investment in a memory, and they become more dear and time goes on. If we had to narrow it down a bit, we agree it is our first trip together: Spain.  We had only known each other a few months. We travelled with her friend MaryEllen and brother Steven. There was something so magical about walking the streets of Barcelona at night. We would alternate who would choose the next Spanish tavern to walk into, and it was always the right place to be. A very close second was definitely a heli-hike on Franz Josef Glacier on the South Island of New Zealand; From the very distant approach to the glacier it all looks like a big bowl of ice cream, then as you get closer you realize how massive and deep each chasm is. You land and start hiking over this massive landscape and into the caves. I shot one of my favorite photos of Karen in one cave.

How does travel influence your photography? For me, simply being away from home, where the daily routine is completely interrupted and the surroundings are new, bring about a fresh perspective. I also tend the see many faces I want to photograph, often faces that look familiar.

What do you look for in a trip? We search for a good mix of town and country. We like an exploration new cultures, new realities and the ease in which we can immerse ourselves in them. We typically pursue our own agenda, and avoid areas overrun with  tours and motor-coaches. We were in Marakech and inquire with the owner of our Ryad about a new French restaurant we’d recently read about. He replied that he could arrange a dinner for us there, but indicated “it wouldn’t be an ‘authentic local experience.’” From that point on, we’ve always searched for authentic.

Most interesting place you’ve ever stayed? We can’t singularly answer that, but can narrow it down; The Ryad Ifoulki in Marrakech, The Hapuku Lodge Treehouses in Kaikouri, NZ, Locanda’ Palazzone in Umbria, Las Brisas in Acapulco and The Seth Peterson Cottage in Wisconsin for our wedding night.

Work or home-related project inspired by a travel experience? Travel provides endless inspiration, and we photograph almost every dish we dine on when traveling and upon our return we usually catch-up with friends cooking dishes that are inspired from the flavors of the country we just visited. Sometimes we even include experiences like presenting guests with pre-dinner rosewater steamed towel [Morocco]. There are many little vignettes in our house that remind us of our travels with collections of framed photos, vases, bedding, and even a gold gilded garden gnome flipping us off [cracks us up - Berlin].

Favorite (design-related) travel purchase? Karen brought back bright orange vintage Kartel nesting tables from Dalesford, Australia while working there. We have framed several street-art pieces that we photographed by a picasso-esque artist named Diego in Naples. We purchased our favorite blanket after snuggling in one at a hotel in New Zealand. It’s part possum fur, part sheep wool–sounds bizarre, but unbelievably lush and warm, and it wears better than cashmere. We found ourselves fighting over it, so we called the hotel to buy another one. We have become good at resisting ‘trinkets’ that are charming in the context of their country but at home, often appear out of context and end up at the Salvation Army. We photograph these kind of items in their natural habitat and find that the photo captures the moment and memory better. Thank goodness for Apple TV and Blurb books.

01.31.2011 | by: Meghan
People

Meet: Studio Aandacht

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

When I was in Amsterdam two years ago, I had the chance to visit Tatjana Quax and Ben Lambers at their home and studio. Not only is their collective creative genius pretty much mind-blowing (please reference styling for the uninhibited Moooi product magazines and their art/design museum installations), but they are also very nice folks. They live in IJburg with their two boys, turning out collaborative and individual brand, styling and design projects that constantly challenge conventional notions of commercial culture and creative ideas. They also do quite a bit of travel–documenting and rhapsodizing about it in the same way they work: with great thought and stunning beauty.

Most meaningful travel experience? Jamaica. Maxim was four months old when we decided to take the epic journey from Amsterdam to Samsara beach resort. Even the most stressed out businessman can’t help to relax on the Island where Bob Marley is considered to be the son of God. We watched the stars on the seashore in the early morning, Maxim and me. Stars bright as stadium lights above a horizon with jumping dolphins…

How does travel influence your creativity or work? It humbles you to see poor people working with their hands, creating the most beautiful pieces of woodwork or fabric, day-in-day-out, without considering themselves a designer, art director, stylist or let alone ‘artist.’ But it also inspires you at the same time, and shows you that working hard is the mantra.

What do you look for in a trip? Quiet and peace. Comfort. Beauty. Nature.

Most interesting place you’ve ever stayed? Shanghai. We stayed over at a friend’s place in the French quarters. He’s a Dutchman who had high-ranked communists for a neighbor. It was in the middle of winter and the showertap was frozen. We ate snake at the Yong Foo Elite club, voted second-best club in the world by WallpaperWe celebrated Chinese Newyear. China is 360 degrees different.

Work that has been inspired by a travel experience? Tatjana Quax (my love) and I consider Antwerp to be our second hometown. March 2011 Tatjana will be teaching Master students at the Royal Academy, and the plan is to stay and work from there for that semester. I love painters like Luc Tuymans and Michaël Borremans and admire the work of Benjamin Verdonck and studio Job.

Favorite travel purchase? Anything obscure in music, books, clothes, art, graphic design etc. Perfume, whisky, olive oil and body lotion.

01.24.2011 | by: Meghan
People

Meet: Ty Best

Artist and designer, Montana

Welcome to designtripper’s new weekly interview series. Every Monday, we’ll hear from a designer, artist, architect or creator about how travel influences their work. I’m thrilled to start the series with Ty Best, one of the most brilliant artist and designers making things in America. If that seems dramatic, take a look.

Previously a Barneys window display guru (working under Malcolm Hill and Simon Doonan), the wildly prolific designer works in near isolation in his rural studio in Montana. And not only is he completely self-taught, but he only started designing furniture less than five years ago.

Ty and his business partner Brad Rowley recently closed their amazing little Chicago gallery, where Ty designed entire floor-to-ceiling installations (including a wooden Christmas shed inspired by unibomber Ted Kaczynski’s cabin and sinister wax-covered dreamscapes with plaster marionettes and carved wooden skulls), to expand their company.  A line of Caste furniture was recently picked up by Holly Hunt, but they’ve got more exciting news/work on the way (including case goods, lighting and interior design services—can you imagine?). Ty is so consumed by his work lately that most of his travel relates to Caste. “I love what I do and when I am not designing or conceptualizing, I am wondering why I am not.”

Last travel experience: Chicago. Was there recently to iron out details of new company and to finalize agreements. But on a more exciting arm, I was there to show many people sketches of new designs I had been working on in the past few months in Montana.

How does travel influence my creativity or work: It recharges my creativity. Montana lets me concentrate and hone in on decisive pieces, while traveling gives me spark to conceptualize and get gutsy with design. Being so isolated here in Montana I love to see what is going on elsewhere and to see who is doing what and why.

What do I look for in a trip: A Barneys! Kidding. Really I look to squeeze as much out of it as I can. In Montana, I have an unlimited well of inspiration from the natural landscape, so when I travel, I like to head to a city for a different kind of inspiration–and to study parallels and contrasts between the layers of landscape in Montana and those of an urban environment.

Most inspiring place I have ever stayed: Easy. A very close friend and mentor, artist Malcolm Hill, lives in an old church in small town Montana. Whenever I was assisting him on various projects–window displays for Barney’s, sculptures for residential installation or his own body of work–I would stay with him. The first floor of the old brick church is living quarters that as such an amazing sensibility, while the second floor (processional) is the studio space we worked in. It just seems so peaceful and ironic for us to be creating in such a space.

Favorite travel purchase: A tan suede pair of Johnny boots from YSL in San Francisco. My very first pair, and since has created a sort of monster out of me.

[IMAGES: First four slideshow images by Michelle Litvin.]

10.25.2010 | by: Meghan
People

Look: Fine Little House

Småland, Sweden

Elisabeth Dunker from Fine Little Day is one of my favorite bloggers and creators. The projects she does with her family are so inspiring (including her new children’s book, Mr. Mustache, which is for sale on her site). Over the past few months, I’ve loved watching her dream of owning a family cottage in the Swedish countryside unfold into reality. Her beautiful photographs of the sweet, humble space capture the feeling of what so many people are looking for in a second home: a quiet place to live simply and creatively. To slow down and take time with life, enjoy the process of preparing food, play in the woods, relax, talk, tinker, make stuff. And I love how she mixes colors, textiles, prints.

10.04.2010 | by: Meghan
People

Meet: clamdiggin

Los Angeles, California

I first met clamdiggin, an LA-based biodiversity-obsessed artist collab made up of Alexandra Fisher and Kevin Johnson, six years ago when they were still living in Chicago, creating oversized chalk drawings for some of the coolest restaurants in town, billboard campaigns and hand-printed nature tees. Since then, they moved across the country to Tucson, where they lived in a teepee in the desert, had a kid, and landed an exhibit at MOCA. Now, based in LA, Kevin and Alexandra are building on their mission “to use our aesthetic to promote biodiversity” with an ever-evolving roster of exhibits, documentary collaborations, books, and even selling  conservancy tees from the back of their VW bus. The way Alexandra describes it: “Commerce, support of local artists, production in the US, fashion, education, sex appeal and nature all in a woven basket.”

Fueled by academic-strength research (into everything from the patterns of migrating birds to charting the evolution of a freshwater pond), clamdiggin’s work was recently discovered by the reigning high priestess of hotel design, Kelly Wearstler, who tapped them to help deck out the beautiful, new Viceroy Anguilla. They collaborated on a series of art pieces inspired by Anguilla’s natural resources: leatherback sea tortoises, salt crystals and black mangroves. And the in-hotel shop will sell clamdiggin nature prints, hand-cut and -dyed tees, and Mexican totes.

[From the top: Alexandra and Kevin, in hammerhead houndstooth tee; Viceroy Anguilla; part of Urban Outfitter window installation by clamdiggin; Hawk Moth, acrylic on wood; Rock State Line Conservancy Tee; Market Alphabet, acrylic on reclaimed wood; Venice Crows.]

09.03.2010 | by: Meghan
People

Meet: Marije Vogelzang

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I’ve been captivated by “eating designer” Marije Vogelzang since I first read about a dinner she prepared using only all-white ingredients a few years ago. Based in the Netherlands, Marije’s experimental eating/design studio turns out clever, high-concept concoctions unlike anything anyone else is doing anywhere. Like the now-famous party she threw for Droog that involved baking a tablecloth of bread that dinner guests had to tear apart and eat in order to find their dinnerware. For a different party, she hung a tablecloth from the ceiling with holes cut out for guests’ heads in the fabric. She once made guns out of sugar, and lately, she’s been cooking root vegetables inside clay sculptures that must be broken for the food inside.

When I visited her Proef café in Rotterdam a couple years ago, I was struck by the dreamscape interiors—ripped, mismatched wallpaper, industrial dangling pendant lights and crude wooden tables and chairs—in juxtaposition to the extremely simple, all-local café fare. That tiny location has since closed, but she just opened a new, bigger and equally amazing-looking restaurant and bar in Amsterdam, also named Proef (pictured below). The interiors have that same child-like enchantment-as-décor thing going on. And there are chickens, an organic veggie garden and picnics in the park. I’m ready to go back.