My first inspiration to get out and learn was from my father.  At a very young age, he practiced the IBM method of MBWA..or Management By Walking Around.  My modification of this lesson he taught me was my own practice of DBT…or Design By Travel.

I do not recall having a single amazing idea arrive in my mind by sitting at a desk.  It has always been by exposure of something different that sparked a concept, plan or design.

My Trips Around the World Begin….

After ending the retail division of my interior design business, I felt it was time to take a few years off and expose my senses to anything and everything that was foreign to my present designs.  The result, in a word, was exceptional.

I began my around the world adventure in New York for the American feeling, there I connected with fellow designers, hit hot spots and caught the season’s fresh plays, including box seats for “It’s Only a Play” with famed designer and friend Eric Cohler. With his very talented eye and present projects, we both agreed that the “rules of design are now that there are no rules”. A stop in London was a return to my childhood passions of any and all things British and old school.  This was a nostalgic time for me as my love of “brown wood” and classic Georgian design and style still makes my heart skip a beat. taj

Next stop, Paris, which always pushes my decorative buttons for some gold, a little over the top console and grand silks. The architecture, of course, can make anyone’s champagne cork pop, but India was the crayon box of every button in a soul that could be pushed.  I was invited on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with ten people from around the world for an intimate three weeks to touch and feel “India”.  As a designer, it ripped so many parts of what I “dislike” into what I “like” allowing me to see what could work for my clients, and modify the scale of the country and its colors, feelings and culture, into a home. The highlight… ringing in the New Year at the Taj Mahal where my Dad convalesced during WWII.  This unforgettable leg of my trip yielded volumes of notes (many on cocktail napkins) and photos that followed me home to compress for the coming years.

I was having so much fun I decided to stay a little longer, so while in India, with an open ended ticket, why not take a cruise?  My travel agent suggested several mega ships of impeccable luxury, saddled alongside three thousand of my closest friends, all headed to the same port alongside other masses of people seeking luxury and relaxation in the same port. Fortunately, an elegant couple I know in Martha’s Vineyard suggested a small sailing yacht for only a small number of people. It was a limited venue, especially in January and February in Asia, where the weather is still very pleasant and the bugs do not appear to have reached puberty so as to remove all your blood in one breath!  Lucky me, this sailing yacht had two rooms left with a great singles rate.

This is the way to go:  80 passengers, 90 crew, massive suites with marble tubs, mahogany walk-in closets, and impeccable decor up to date by the moment, and very relaxed dress code.  I walked from my hotel four blocks to the yacht with my two small bags and started my sail up from Saigon to Hong Kong… taking two  leisurely weeks . Being a large yacht, but small compared to the mega ships, we could sail right up to ports in small cities or even Hanoi.  This allowed me to run down to our dining room and grab a lunch on the rear deck or  freshen up before seeing more of a village or city ….either way, the adventure, the leisurely pace of the ship, and my water route of circumnavigating the globe was a very beautiful thing!

vietnam2As amazing as it was, my sailing venture down the coast of Vietnam is not the end of the story, but sadly, I must go as it’s time for cocktails at the Kit Kat Club, more on that later… and much more on my trip in my next blog. You won’t believe how I got home! Stay tuned.

Sent from Heaven,

Merrill