Restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic have not only dramatically altered travel across the globe, they’ve also sparked interest in rethinking the design of the personal spaces where people are now spending more of their time.
Carol Kurth, FAIA, ASID, a principal of Carol Kurth Architecture + Interiors in Bedford, New York, is an award-winning architect and interior designer. Her extensive portfolio of luxury places to live, work and play are notable for their creative integration of site, form, structure and materials.
An avid traveler herself, Carol is a highly sought-after speaker, always offering fresh insights on architecture, interior design trends and sustainability.
Forbes.com spoke to Carol Kurth about the shifts she’s seeing in her industry, how travel can inspire architecture and interior design, and the creative ways—large and small—travel enthusiasts can weave reminiscences of their travels into their homes.
With travel curtailed and people spending more time at home, what types of shifts have you seen in design and decor?
Carol Kurth: Initially, people seemed to be focused on what I’d call nesting: figuring out where to shelter, how to work, how to gather food and supplies, and how to adapt to the ever-changing landscape. As all things evolve, the desire to make one’s shelter experience more livable, functional and more beautiful came into focus. People reorganized plans while also reorganizing their physical spaces and rethought the uses of those spaces to accommodate the shifting landscape.
Now, it feels like we’re in a phase of preparation: getting ready and planning ahead for winter, which poses different constraints due to the weather. This includes finding ways to socialize and entertain safely and create a seasonless outdoor environment that allows us to be outside as long as possible.
People are beginning to envision how they can shelter in place while still being able to do the things they love, that bring them happiness, and what changes they might need to make to the function and flow of their homes to achieve those goals. Often, this includes bringing memories, both physical and emotional, of their travel experiences into their homes.
What are some ways your clients with a wanderlust for travel have incorporated their experiences into their homes?
CK: The majority of our clients travel extensively—whether for business, leisure, adventure or philanthropic endeavors—and most have both interest and desire to incorporate elements from their travels.
Architecture and design are similar to travel in the sense that they can go beyond the physical; there is an emotional connection that engages the senses, transcending time and place. As architects and interior designers, we can help them translate these memorable experiences whether it is through tactile, visual or olfactory media.
I’ve worked with clients to memorialize their travels in various ways. Sometimes a specific memento might influence a design element, a color scheme, or the desire to highlight it within the home. I’ve been asked to curate