When you design for a living, inspiration and creativity must be renewed. Design inspiration can come from anywhere – but travel is a HUGE source of inspiration for me.
"Travel is not about where you go but how you see the world".
This Spring I had the opportunity to travel to China, a trip that turned out to be one of a lifetime. I was part of a group, and we visited Beijing, X’ian, Shanghai, Suzhou & Hong Kong. Below are some of my travel notes.
The Great Wall of China
Climbing The Great Wall of China was an Olympic event… who knew? and one which I challenged myself to undertake. Crowded at the bottom with many tourists, mostly Chinese, the higher up you go the less populated is the path. What surprised me the most was that it wasn’t a paved path; rather it consists of many steps (I heard 1,000, then someone else said 2,000). I made it up the first 600, huffing & puffing and very warm. I was warmly dressed, as it was very cold on the mountain, about an hour’s drive outside of Beijing. Climbing, the layers came off one by one - first the cashmere scarf, then the down jacket, and so on. Along the way, I paused to take photos with local tourists.
Since I relate everything to design…I was wondering if construction blueprints existed for The Great Wall, so I looked it up & sure enough there are (see http://bit.ly/2n4IqPL , and for additional information http://bit.ly/2oCcEXn . I was also wondering why the steps height was so uneven, ranging from 4”- 16” high, making the climb even more challenging.
The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty—the years 1420 to 1912. It is located in the center of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum.
The Forbidden City
X’ian; The Qin Dynasty Terra-cotta Army
The army of life-size terra cotta soldiers, archers, horses and chariots was stationed in military formation near Emperor Qin’s tomb in order to protect the emperor in the afterlife. This awesome view is even more amazing when you discover it represents only a fraction of the underground treasures yet to unearth.
The Qin Dynasty Terra-cotta Army
Suzhou - Venice of the East
Suzhou, a city west of Shanghai, is known as the “Venice of the East” for its canals, bridges & romantic water town.
When you travel through China, it quickly becomes apparent that there’s no such thing as ‘Chinese food’. Oh there’s Cantonese, Sichuan, Shandong, Fujian, Hunan and Anhui food, and everything is so fresh & delicious. Peking duck was one of my favorites.
Signs of China
Signs in China are everywhere, some in traditional graphics, and other quite contemporary. What was amusing, was the occasional literal English translation.
The Recycling Bins are beautifully designed with graphics you cannot misinterpret:
“Be careful For Squeeze” was found in front of a revolving door.
“Asexuality” …you get it!
Hong Kong is an autonomous territory, and former British colony, in southeastern China. Its vibrant, densely populated urban center is a major port and global financial hub with a skyscraper-studded skyline incl. the famed architectural landmarks like I.M. Pei’s Bank of China Tower.
This was my second visit to Hong Kong. Would you believe I was there in 1967? Naturally, it was overwhelming to experience the growth. The Hong Kong I remembered featured a few high-rises, compared with the urban & commercial jungle of today’s Hong Kong Island & Kowloon. Although governed by China, it still feels like a British Colony, with driving on the Left side. It’s public transportation, incl the subway is amazingly efficient.
In conclusion, my trip was inspiring and fun, providing much design inspiration!
Until the next trip… Ni ha to all!
"Travel is not about where you go but how you see the world".
I recently traveled to Israel again, as I have been doing often the last few years to visit my parents and family. January in Tel Aviv is a lot like here…raining…so it was a perfect opportunity to visit the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
Join us for an exciting weekend of holiday shopping, featuring a collection of locally made jewelry, candles, scarves as well as a wonderful array of handpicked gifts and handbags. A relaxed shopping experience in an elegant environment awaits you. Sip & savor tasty treats as we gift wrap your purchase & add a gift of our own! Read more about the artists below.
Drawn to layering perfumes to create a personalized fragrance, Lizette Marie turns candles to capture sensory experiences. Lizette’s signature Gilded Decay collection is a reflection of her dark, moody aesthetic and glamorous attitude.
Sarah Jane Hassler has been designing jewelry over 15 years and her work is a culmination of years of experimentation with non-traditional materials in jewelry. She has always been interested in the forms and materials of the Art Deco days. Her pieces are a contemporary take on this style.
Mitandio, has its origin from a Swahili word meaning scarves. It is the vision of two sisters, Jas & Ruku, who grew up in Tanzania and India. The artwork for each scarf is hand-painted and then transferred onto the finest silk cashmere fabric via digital printing process. The scarves are inspired by their life and travels and each carries its own story, springing from wildlife to nature.
For the first time in many years, I took a really long and much-deserved summer vacation. It all began with a visit to Israel, where I spent precious time with family, which included the celebration of my Dad’s 93rd Birthday. While in Israel, I visited the Tel Aviv Design Museum, an impressive Corten Steel structure designed by architect Ron Arad, reminding many of the Guggenheim. I then made my way over to Northern Italy, where I went from hiking in the Dolomites to taking short day trips to Lakes Garda & Iseo.
Wherever I go, I immerse myself in the culture and experience my passions: Nature, Art, Architecture and Design, and of course... Food & Foreign Languages.
On this particular trip, these passions presented themselves in a single location: The Messner Mountain Museum in Corones, Italy. Designed by my favorite architect Zaha Hadid (about whose untimely death this year I wrote in a previous newsletter), the museum is perched up on a mountain ridge at 7,000 ft. The highlight: the mountain views, the amazing architecture, and the artwork...all a short hike up from the funicular...amazing!
On another note, please save the date for our Annual Holiday Trunk Show. I am excited to introduce new local talent. Drop in for a drink and shop the newest designs. It's going to be festive and fun, so be sure to bring a friend. Looking forward to seeing you!
Zaha Hadid, called Architect of the Future died unexpectedly a week ago. I was & still am in shock...a "bigger than life" visionary, what a talent...and my age!
I related to Zaha on so many levels: she was a woman architect - how many world famous women architects are there? - a middle eastern, a prolific "outside the box" designer who was also celebrated for her furniture, shoes, car, boat and jewelry designs. She defied convention. Dezeen magazine has a lovely opinion piece and a wonderful collection of articles. Lots of time could be spent at the a Pinterest page dedicated to her.
Someone once said my RIDGE sofa reminded them of a Zaha Hadid design...a true compliment!! A personal inspiration to me...she will be missed.
Jennifer White Kuri is returning to The Bay Area for her first solo exhibit since 2013. Through My Prism will feature mixed media and paintings, ranging from late 1970s to the present. Ruth Livingston Studio’s exhibition of Jennifer’s work is a homecoming of sorts as Jennifer received her MA in painting at UC Berkeley in 1975 under the tutorship of Joan Brown and Elmer Bischoff of the Bay Area Figurative tradition.
The mixed-media paintings of her photo series: “Portrait” and “Interior Landscape” are available as originals as well as a limited first edition series of prints.
The opening reception will be held at the Tiburon Studio Thurs, September 24, 2015 from 6 to 8 PM & the studio will also remain open till 7pm on Friday, Sept. 25 (last of this year’s Tiburon’s Friday Nights on Main) The artwork will be displayed in room settings & as table top decorations. Jennifer will be making a brief presentation at 7 PM. The exhibition continues through October 20th.
Ruth Livingston is an award-winning interior designer known for her collaborative work with Bay Area artists. Her design studio and gallery occupies an elegant space on Ark Row in downtown Tiburon. In addition to Jennifer’s artwork, on display are furnishings from the Ruth Livingston Studio Collection, decorative accessories for the home, gifts and jewelry.
For additional information or imagery, and RSVP to this free event at: rlstudio@RuthLivingston.com
Spirits sponsored by Hanson of Sonoma Organic Vodka, handcrafted and distilled from the finest grapes.
Today, as most Sundays, I start my day with a visit to the Farmers Market for fresh produce, & end with an afternoon hike.
There are many trails, all around Marin County, where I live, and it is hard to pick a favorite, as I love each for its uniqueness. Some are in the open hills, others in a forest like environment, with occasional waterfalls, a creek, beautiful trees…
Today, as I was walking along the Tennessee Valley Trail, a popular, mostly flat easy hike, about a 4 mile round trip walk to the ocean, with many side trails into the hills & the beaches around.
As I was hiking alone today (my personal form of meditation; nothing better than this to clear the mind), I was thinking about how lucky we are to have all those wonderful vast expanses of park lands, right in the middle of our county.
A few minutes ride from anywhere in Marin, & you’ll find yourself engulfed by nature. We seem to take it for granted (I wonder if my kids do). Do you ever wonder how this came to be?
Not many know the history of how it happened, so I’d like to share it with you.
This, is the result of a wonderful group of individuals, who have made this open space a reality.
Their story is depicted in a wonderful documentary, Rebels with A Cause by Nancy Kelly and Kenji Yamamoto.
"To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often." Winston Churchill.
As you can see, we have changed a few things here at www.ruthlivingston.com. One of the big changes, in addition to our new look, is the application of new technology to ensure that our site works in a familiar and easy manner across all digital platforms. The new site not only brings our look forward from a design perspective, but it guarantees our site is formatted perfectly to your device of choice.
And as we continue to evolve, our online presence, like our business, will certainly mature as we strive to keep you better informed and more inspired. That said, one thing that has not changed, is our goal to make certain that your vision becomes a reality. Please, if you would, help us perfect our approach by letting us know what you think about our new design and how we can make your visit with Ruth Livingston Studio a better experience.
Hi, and welcome to my blog. Every couple of weeks or so, I will be sharing personal thoughts, observations & experiences relating to things I care deeply about, including but not limited to:
I invite you to interact with me, to send me questions, share information & comment on my observations. The idea is to have a conversation about design, popular culture and the world at large in order to better understand how I can best serve you.
For instance, did you know that anyone can call themselves an Interior Designer?
However, what separates the hobbyist from the pro is a license. Did you know that our profession is licensed in California? To be licensed one must pass a 3 day test, have the proper education, experience in the field & more.
Ask CCIDC (the organization that oversees certification), or ASID for a list of “Certified Interior Designers” in your area. I happen to be one (#317, since 1993.) A professional Interior Designer will help you realize your dreams. They will generate floor plans, elevations, lighting design; they will prepare specification tables for contractors & make sure the designs are meticulously adhered to…not simply left to the contractor’s interpretation.
They will guide you toward the perfect piece of furniture, the just right fabric & the amazing materials you had no idea existed! A true professional enhances and celebrates your lifestyle and creates true, long-term value.
I just returned from a family visit to Israel, where my eye kept going to door designs: lots of graffiti, murals on garage & commercial type doors, as well as beautiful old carved doors.
A doorway is very symbolic. Don't you agree? An opening to an unknown space beyond, representing a beginning, a stepping over the threshold into ...? Doors fascinate me. If you have favorite door photos, please share.