World of Interiors

Planning your own grand design – or just a modest room makeover? Put down the glossy mag, stop browsing Pinterest and grab your passport for a world tour of stylish cities with seriously inspiring interior design

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen Denmark

For original Scandi style

Let me hit you with some names: Arne Jacobsen, Verner Panton, Hans J. Wegner, Jørn Utzon, Kaare Klint, Georg Jensen… A number of modernist design greats – and the architects of contemporary ‘Scandi style’ – lived and worked in Copenhagen, so if you love the look, this is the city to visit. Start by getting the modernist lowdown on swan chairs, flower pot lights and propeller stools at the Design Museum, then check out the architecture: the Bagsværd Church (pictured above) designed by Jørn Utzon (who created the Sydney Opera House); Bellevue Beach, just north of the city, and Skovshoved Petrol Station, both by Jacobsen; and Henning Larsen’s iconic Copenhagen Opera House. Shop modern Danish design at the super-cool flagship Normann Copenhagen store, as well as Designer ZooHay House and Illums Bolighus. You may want to pack light…

Stay in room 606 at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, formerly known as the SAS Hotel, designed by Arne Jacobsen. It is the only room that has kept its original design. If €650 or so a night is rather too much, check in at the cool Ibsens Hotel.

Milan, Italy

Milan Italy

For designer luxe

The interior capital of the world, Milan is home to many of the biggest names in contemporary design. Every April, the designerati flock to the Salone del Mobile (aka the Milan Furniture Fair) to discover the hot new trends and products, but you can get the idea by hitting the shops. Major names to check out include CassinaMorosoB&B ItaliaKartell and Alessi, and for very fashion-influenced looks, Armani Casa and Missoni. Definitely head to Rossana Orlandi too for an edited choice of cool products from around the world and a relaxing cup of tea in the lovely courtyard garden. Then get off the beaten design track at Understate, where you can see exhibitions as well as buy products from the city’s rising stars. Another must-do design experience is the recently opened Nilufar Depot (pictured above) where, within a central atrium and its surrounding three floors bedecked by black balconies, are more than 3,000 vintage pieces. Design heaven.

Stay at the Armani Hotel and relax amidst its elegant design aesthetic courtesy of the iconic fashion designer. It’s also in the Brera district, Milan’s most happening area.

Brasília, Brazil

Braslia Brazil

For exhilarating architecture

Rio may hog the headlines, but for design fans Brazil’s capital city is a must-visit. The city was planned by Oscar Niemeyer, arguably Brazil’s greatest architect, and is filled with his trademark curving, sinewy architecture. Niemeyer designed more than 25 major buildings here, including the beautiful Alvorada Palace (the President’s residence), the National Museum of the Republic (pictured above), the Federal Supreme Court and, towering above them, the skyscraper towers and accompanying domes of the National Congress. Not far away is another government building, the Itamaraty Palace (take a tour to get inside), and the Cathedral of Brasília, which outside resembles a crown of 16 curving columns and inside dazzles with contemporary stained glass. When you’re there, make sure to watch the sun set from Ermida Dom Bosco, a Niemeyer-designed lookout on the shores of the artificial Paranoá lake. This is not a city for shopping – bring home Niemeyer style on your camera and turn your shots into eye-catching artwork.

Stay at the Brasília Palace hotel, also designed by Oscar Niemeyer. Inaugurated in 1958, it played host to such important folk as Queen Elizabeth, Indira Gandhi and Dwight Eisenhower. Devastated by fire in 1978, it was modernised and re-opened in 2006.

Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech Morocco

For lashings of pattern and print

Moroccan style is a never-loses-its cool interior design trend; fabulous patterns, geometric Berber rugs, glittery wedding blankets, elaborately painted ceramics and embossed lanterns that add spice to any space. Get to the heart of it all in Marrakech – from the beautifully carved doorways into ancient riads to historic buildings such as the Bahia Palace, with its intricately carved cedar ceilings, elaborate zellij tiles and stucco panels, and the fourteenth-century Ali ben Youssef Medersa with its wood-carved balconies and stunning courtyard of calligraphic tiles. Shop for original Moroccan style in the souks in the alleys north of Jemaa el-Fna (the central square) ­– head for the Criée Berbère, once a slave market, now the centre of the carpet trade, and find blankets at the Kissaria. Beyond the souks, check out boutique stores such as 33 Rue Majorelle for homeware and fashion, or the factory shop district of Sidi Ghanem on the outskirts of the city on the road to Safi (you need a car, not just to get there, but to travel around the shops too) for everything from bed linen to vintage furniture. It doesn’t look chic, but the souvenirs certainly are.

Stay in a riad, a traditional Moroccan house, in the Medina for a full-on taste of this bustling city. Riad Altair is beautifully decorated, with fabulous views.

Mexico City

Mexico City

For vibrant colour

From the cobalt-coloured home of artist Frida Kahlo (pictured above) to the brilliant orange and pink of architect Luis Barragán’s, Mexico is known for its bold colouring. Visit Kahlo and Barragan’s homes, stroll the streets of the bohemian Condesa district, and travel north to nearby Pachuca, where more than 200 homes have been painted to create an immense, beautiful mural. Bring some of this vibrancy home with gorgeous textiles and ceramics. Head for La Ciudadela artisan market, but also Fonart, Mexico’s government handicrafts store, which has a wide selection of high-quality textiles and ceramics from all over the country, and the museum shop at the Museo de Arte Popular for more quality crafts. Then go modern at Maggie Galton, with her beautiful selection of textiles, ceramics and lacquerware.

Stay at the W hotel, its rooms decorated in the colours of Frida Kahlo and her artist husband Diego Rivera… Oh, and hammocks from which you can gaze upon spectacular views of the city.

Designer destination picked? Book your flights – although you may want to consider some extra luggage…

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