Editor’s Letter: Seeking Inspiration

Editor’s Letter: Seeking Inspiration

Our annual travel issue celebrates spaces for creativity and the lengths we go to find them—from Bali to Brazil and beyond.
Photos by

I can’t write at home. At least, I can’t start a creative project there. Or at the office, really. I need a change of scenery, a switch of context, that vaunted third place with the right amount of distance from duties and distractions. Travel is the best way to find that sense of separation. A slightly buzzy hotel lobby, where I focus by tuning out ambient conversation, is my ideal destination. To some people, this sounds terrible, and they may set out for a contemplative cabin in the woods or an elemental shack on the beach. Wherever you prefer to venture, our annual travel issue celebrates stirring spaces, the places people go not just to find inspiration but to do something with it.

For architect David Ross and his husband, artist Mark Dutcher, it’s the getaway they built in their beloved Sea Ranch, where they owned and cared for one of the most important homes in the idyllic Northern California community. Their new house features an open-air painting studio and a design that pulls in the modernist enclave’s legendary light. Similarly, designer Bob Butler’s retreat in rural Tennessee serves as his laboratory for new ideas, some of which developed into a Miesian mash-up of a house that quietly tweaks utopian conventions.

Others in the issue traveled to places so inspiring that the journey became permanent. Painter Heather Day built a serene home studio and a full-time life in Joshua Tree, California. Musicians My Larsdotter and Sean W. Spellman put down roots in a Rhode Island vacation town. Writer Kathryn Romeyn went to Bali and ended up constructing a permanent home there made from concrete dyed a woozy shade of mottled Pepto. It’s beautiful.

Finally, we wanted to cover someone who incorporated their creative escape into their residence. Taking it a little further than most, architect Tito Ficarelli designed a house in São Paulo that includes music and painting studios, a foldaway art gallery, and a hammock-strung space where you can practice aerial silks. The design also manages to fit in practical, multigenerational living spaces that Tito and his wife, artist Luiza Gottschalk, share with their two children and a septuagenarian family friend. The acid-green bathroom is a work of art all on its own.

You could be an artist or an accountant, a poet or a politician, but no matter what you make, I hope these stories inspire you to seek new creative contexts, whether they’re far afield—like a perfectly jet-lagged hotel lobby—or close to home.

William Hanley
Editor-in-Chief, Dwell
William Hanley is Dwell's editor-in-chief, previously executive editor at Surface, senior editor at Architectural Record, news editor at ArtNews, and staff writer at Rhizome, among other roles.


Get the Dwell Newsletter

Be the first to see our latest home tours, design news, and more.