As we round out July, we find ourselves in the midst of summer, and after a solid year of work, it’s time for change – to take a break from the studio/office, and most importantly from routines, consistency and the comfort that can come with security. 26 Projects will be minus one for one month, as I leave to embark on a journey to the Nordic region.

Naturally, one reason for this trip is to reconnect with friends, make new ones, and become immersed in new culture and experiences. But, another significant reason lies in the fact that the countries and cities within this region (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden) are some of the most livable, pedestrian conscious places in the world.

I have always wondered – even since before my days studying environmental design – how does a culture and value system come to reflect so well in every aspect of daily life? It seems that in the places we come to love, thoughtful design permeates everything we sense. What could we take away and bring back home to Winnipeg – our northern city? These seem like very basic questions, but they are helpful to ask. Already within our community we have seen examples of inspiration brought home from local events like table for 1200, and the designation of a new design district.

These travel breaks are crucial to the development of anyone – creative or not. As humans, we are shaped by the complete collection of all of our experiences. As designers, we draw from our experiences and lived moments, pieced together by various sensorial responses to the places we have been. Those responses are either jotted down in-situ or dissected at the end of the day. In design, we draw upon a collection of “physical” experiences in order to create or instigate other physical responses for those who engage with the work – I believe this is true of all design. And, this is why I believe there is no better way to gain inspiration and insight than to travel. We gather a collection of captured clips of experience that we constantly go back to, as a way to find influences and gain inspiration for the work we do. No one can truly start from scratch, and there is no better way to experience and understand new cultural modes and expressions then to be physically engaged.

As graphic designers, we are in the business of identities, and all of what I mention above holds true. Whether it is the development of a new brand, a new typography, new languages, and new ways of navigating… Travel is irreplaceable when it comes to learning, to exposure, to personal growth – all of which can greatly round a person out and teach them something new about themselves, and offer a chance to indulge in how other people live, work and play. And of course, not to mention all the great and many art galleries and museums along the way!

I look forward to sharing more upon my return.

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