Article and Photography by Theresa Poprocky, Creative Services Director

When you’re a designer, you see things a little differently than others… unless of course, the others are also designers.

To some, staring at a blank piece of paper or a computer screen every day, tasked with dreaming up something clever or cool, seems daunting. To me, however, that’s the very thing that gets me excited to begin each and every day. I realized early on that my talent is a blessing. It comes from a place much greater than I. And my inspiration comes from everything around me, as well as those that came before me.

In 2016, you might say I hit the mother lode of creative inspiration… I traveled to Italy.

My mother Anna was born in Calabria, Italy, in 1927. She and I took a trip there in 2001, right before 9/11 scared us all out of the sky. But a milestone birthday last year was just the beckoning I needed to visit Anna Graziano’s homeland once again.

From the very second our plane touched down in Venice, the return to Italy took my breath away. It makes me proud that my heritage is deeply rooted in a country with such an appreciation for all things beautiful—from the architecture, to the textiles, to the vineyards and olive groves, to the crystal blue waterways and canals… lest we forget the plates of food resembling Michelangelo masterpieces. There was seafood caught within hours of preparation, pasta made fresh right in front of our eyes, free-flowing Chianti, and yes gelato… lots and lots of gelato, in every flavor and color under the Tuscan sun. Everywhere we looked was a photo opp waiting to happen.

You pinch yourself to make sure this is all really happening. Your senses become heightened. Your brain picks up on Mediterranean color palettes and geometric shapes. You are ultra-aware of the smells of the countryside lined with fragrant poppies that go on for miles. You stroll cobblestone pathways lined with artisans who carry on family traditions of handcrafting just about everything you could imagine, all with impeccable precision and dedication. You visit museums filled with statues that, until now, you had only gotten to appreciate one-dimensionally in art books. You reverently gaze up at the famed statue of David… able to admire it from every angle. Design inspiration at every turn.

I took so many photos, I thought my iPhone would explode! And each time we reboarded our tour shuttle bus after visiting another gorgeous location, I began feverishly cropping the portfolio of photos I had taken that day, trying to relive what I experienced… making sure I captured every fabulous moment.

From Venice to Rome, and every town in between, I felt myself becoming a more astute designer… as if all the ancestors before me embraced me and led me by the hand and guided me to “me.”

I felt a kismet during this trip that I had not experienced on my maiden journey in 2001.

All of my personal and professional quirks that I had questioned all these years fell into place. Things began to make perfect sense. It was extremely cathartic. I had suddenly come to appreciate myself in ways I hadn’t before.

But one does not need to be a designer, or have Italian ancestry for that matter, to appreciate beauty and design. It’s all around us. Perhaps we should say arrivederci to our old ideals and see things with a renewed perspective.

A Tour of Italy in Photos

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