Travel was the theme for the opening keynote of the Pacific Design Center Fall Market on October 8. Departures home and design editor Dan Rubinstein moderated a discussion called “Capitals of Style,” in which designers Ashley Hicks, Vicente Wolf, and Jane Hallworth shared photos of their travels and described how these exotic places inspire their work.
“I like to travel. It’s a comfort level for me. I’m always trying to bring, conceptually, what I see in my travels into my design,” said Wolf, as he showed photos from India, Ethiopia and Thailand side by side with his design work. Dusty rose, cream and taupe palettes travel into Wolf’s projects alongside native pieces he shipped back from the countries.
“Coloration is so important in what I pick up in my travels,” he continued. “What you see doesn’t always have to be literal. You can take it into a space and just sort of interpret what you’ve seen before. I buy things that, when they’re put together, they don’t look like souvenirs, but they really integrate themselves into a space.”
Hicks showed guests his London apartment, which was previously owned by his father, renowned designer David Hicks. “I was determined to purge it of my father’s decoration and do something quite different that he may have disliked,” Hicks shared. “I like the idea of having tapestries and scenic paintings on the walls. My father didn’t approve of faux painting that was done after the 18th century.”
The walls of the apartment feature a panorama of Constantinople that Hicks painted himself. He created the panorama in Photoshop, used a projector to cast the scene onto the walls, then traced it and painted it. “Over the years, you build up a reservoir of imagery and inspiration. Here, you are looking out of a virtual window where you see Istanbul,” shared Hicks, who credits his inspiration to regular museum visits.
Hallworth introduced the Brody House by A. Quincy Jones. She brought reclaimed concrete manhole covers into the space with a print on them inspired by Mayan architecture. One of her most memorable trips was to the Vatican, where she received a special tour of the Sistine Chapel at midnight. “Obviously, I don’t design like that, but these spaces open your mind to color and texture. They blow away your creative cobwebs. When you travel, the experiences are refreshing and it cleanses your palette, but also your soul.”
The PDC Fall Market also hosted “The French Connection,” a panel exploring the creative ties between Los Angeles and Paris. The Hollywood Reporter’s contributing culture editor, Degen Pener, moderated the panel of product, art and design innovators, including Pierre Frey president and creative director Patrick Frey, interior designer Elliott Barnes, art and design purveyors/patrons Nicolas Libert and Emmanuel Renoird, and curatorial director Martha Kirszenbaum.
Pener asked the panelists why French people are attracted to, and relocating to, L.A. “We all have in mind this kind of L.A. dream, which is part of the lifestyle and scenery you find here,” shared Libert. “Everyone around the world is sharing these palm trees and surf images, which seem fake but really exist. The funny thing is that even without coming here, you know all these spots—Beverly Hills, Malibu—that are so famous. Everybody is running after the industry because it’s so huge and it’s such an inspiration and influence for the whole world.”
Kirszenbaum moved from France to New York to L.A., where she ultimately felt the greatest connection. “I had a very strong visual impact, which is the horizontality and light in L.A., which is something that one can never forget,” she said. “It’s so rich for people who come and make things in L.A., which I didn’t realize.” Kirszenbaum works with France Los Angeles Exchange, a program that invites artists from France to L.A. for months at a time to produce works on-site. “It’s a totally different environment for them. They are confronted with a new city, of course, but also new means of production. I realized the importance of L.A. as an industrial city is that you have access to so many materials.”
“There’s been an incredible French presence in Los Angeles, at least in my experience,” said Barnes. “The film industry accounts for a huge portion of this exchange from an ideal level, from fantasy level, to real exchange between actors and studios and producers. Those become big motors.”