By: Kelly Martin, M.S., NCIDQ, IDEC, ASID, IIDA, CD, LEED AP

Every Sunday evening this winter, one of my favorite things to do was to curl up on the sofa with some hot tea and a cuddly blanket and watch “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy” on CNN with my family. Each episode would feature Tucci, visiting a unique area of Italy, discussing history and how political and cultural influences made each region’s food unique and wonderful. He dined at high-end establishments and, by invitation, in the homes of local Italians, learning how they prepare their food and joining the enjoyment of a special meal with family and friends. With my husband at my side, we would watch the show in awe as Stanley Tucci would take the first bite of some delectable pizza or pasta dish from Naples, Milan, or Rome, surrounded by beautiful countryside and architecture. It was fun to reminisce about the “good ol’ days” when my husband and I could just get on a plane and go somewhere…anywhere…and how excited we will be when those days return.

In thinking about this newsletter arriving to you with spring in full bloom, I am reflecting upon the interior design profession and how much travel has meant to our community in the past. How many of us have embarked upon a journey somewhere and returned with a refreshed eye for design or had an experience abroad that became a source of renewed inspiration for our work? At Auburn University, where I teach, we have a permanent year-round campus in Ariccia, Italy, where our interior design students may choose to study abroad for a whole semester. They actually live in a historic palace and learn from Italian educators who are artists, chefs, and historians, embracing Italian culture and expanding their horizons. On weekends, the students go on excursions throughout Europe, hopping on a quick flight or train to the Amalfi Coast, Paris or Rome. The students always return to the U.S. with their eyes wide open and with a new appreciation for culture, food, art, and architecture. The beautiful things they have seen and the historic places they have been make a difference in their design work. Our college also offers trips to Fiji with a sustainability focus, Malaysia and Thailand, London, Peru, Nepal, and South Africa, many with a community engagement focus. No matter where the students study abroad, they always return with a broadened perspective and a greater appreciation for the world around them.

Considering the impact of the pandemic and how much was lost to so many people in a multitude of ways, I think our profession can add to the list of losses by the loss of unique design inspirations that can only come from traveling. As you and your family or colleagues may begin to plan for travel again, I imagine you feel like I do with a thirst for new places and renewed appreciation for opportunities to see new things and have new experiences in this country and around the world. I am ready for designers to “go” again! Let’s travel!

My question to you, ASID Alabama Chapter, is whether you might want to plan an exclusive trip for our members once things are safe and open for travel. Based on how past ASID National trips have traveled through smaller leadership committees, we might be able to gather a group of 20-25 ASID Alabama members to travel to a national or international site, with a customized itinerary focusing on art, architecture, food, wine and culture. This customized travel experience for our members could also financially support the ASID Alabama Chapter by booking with a travel agent who would assist with planning and making reservations and then give a percentage of the funds back to the ASID Alabama Chapter as a fundraiser. The logistics of this trip, if you are interested, would mean getting a Steering Committee together to initiate the process and move forward with the details. An example of what the group might be able to do is stay at an ASID member’s villa in Tuscany or at a local boutique hotel and work with the travel agent to break up the day’s activities into architecture, art museums, special tours, food, wine and fun.

Are you interested? I hope so! We’d love your feedback to start looking at logistics for a special ASID Alabama Chapter member trip. Please fill out this survey ( to let us know your thoughts and help us begin some initial planning of location, timing and budget. The data from this survey will help ASID Alabama leadership to see if there is enough interest and how we might proceed. We look forward to hearing from you!  Thank you!