Culture / Travel

Europe from an Insider’s View

Globetrotting Houston Designer Enjoys a Dream Trip

BY // 07.29.15

Gin Braverman, the principal designer of gindesigns, a Houston-based firm, is an admirer of Scandinavian design and recently joined 12 industry professionals on a five-day Dots & Planes European Inspiration Tour designed to connect professionals, brands and media on an informal basis about Scandinavian and German aspects of design. The tour included cultural highlights, culinary experience, inspiring hotel stays and the opportunity to meet brand executives and designers behind the collections visited on the trip. The tour culminated with Design Basel/Miami, Art Basel and the after-party at the Vitra Campus for the Summer Party.

Copenhagen; Zurich/Basel/Bern, Switzerland; Weil am Rhein, Germany. 

Joost Vanhecke and An Michiels, Dots & Planes tour directors; they have an in-depth knowledge of the European design scene. They work on commercial and cultural projects in the field of design and architecture and are part of the core team behind the international Biennale Interieur in Kortrijk, Belgium.

Ayumi Sugiyama, project director, SHoP Architects, NY; Yeesan Loh, associate, Gensler, NY; Laura Robertson, senior interior designer, MKDA; Amber Style, principal, Amber Style Environments; Michala Monroe, principal, M | Monroe Design.

It was unseasonably cold in northern Europe, dipping into the 40s at night. I dug into my closets and packed for a Houston winter, which sometimes wasn’t even enough for the winds of Copenhagen harbor. Luckily, black and gray is the name of the game to blend with the Scandinavian locals, so I packed light and layered up. I had my gray suede Kenneth Cole slip-on espadrilles, perfect for all the walking we did; my “Biggie King Of NYC” pullover sweatshirt from Urban Outfitters; a black windbreaker/rain jacket by Lafayette 148; a gray jersey dress by Mark & Estel; cropped black tuxedo pants, a recent find from Buffalo Exchange; white and black V-neck long-sleeve T-shirts from Banana Republic; a gray sleeveless jacket from Topshop; and my Winston Komono black watch to have something that’s always on H-town time.


My extra-large HyperJuice battery pack to keep my MacBookPro charged over the ocean, because my flights always consist of work (and a little sleep), Origins GinZing undereye cream and Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment, a cozy fleece wrap cardigan by Rick Owens that can be a blanket/pillow/jacket, a black knit Huf beanie from SELECT skate shop and a massive black leather vintage Tahari tote to hold it all.

Copenhagen: HOTEL SP34. The clean Scandinavian style was expressed in the linearity of the lobby fireplace, punctuated with local artists’ sketches and in good company with low navy- and rose-upholstered sofas and an eye-catching white rope installation. Two of our other nights were spent in Switzerland at the Parkhotel Langenthal and in Bern’s Hotel Innere Enge, an exceptional four-star hotel with five-star comfort and very spacious and peaceful rooms with views of the distant Alps. The green surroundings were natural and unspoiled.

Copenhagen: Uformel is a Michelin-star restaurant and Formel B’s cool and edgy younger brother. The décor is warm and inviting, with dark walls and gold accents, which create a very special feel. Lidkoeb whisky bar: We dropped by this bar, recently nominated for Best International High Volume Cocktail bar by Tales of The Cocktail, to enjoy some after-dinner whiskey drinks in the dimly-lit cozy leather booths. Restaurant Höst: We enjoyed an eight-course tasting menu among the mixed Scandic/rustic furnishings, sheepskin throw and indoor trees, which brought a bit of the rural into the design of this award-winning urban Copenhagen restaurant.

We didn’t have much time to shop due to the whirlwind of activities planned, so I made sure to shop at some of the stops on the tour. My favorite item, a black glass olive oil dropper, was picked up at Beau Marché, our first showroom on the tour. Most of us grabbed one of the super-cool Art Basel totes at the show and a small Swiss salt cellar from the Paul Klee Museum gift shop. We were also gifted some lovely porcelain vases by the founder of Karakter Copenhagen during our tour of his new showroom.

Having VIP access to Basel was so cool. We had access to all of the exhibits and the VIP lounge, a blackened-wood structure by Seattle studio Olson Kundig Architects, where we sat in on a moderated discussion between the winners of the Swarovski Designers of the Future Awards and the editor in chief of Wallpaper* magazine, one of my favorite trade publications.

The Vitra Campus Summer Party was also amazing, a must-hit post-Art Basel party. We toured the entire campus, including art exhibitions and showrooms. I loved how the local dishes were served buffet-style in lovely small glass canning jars, and we dined on the grass under lanterns, listening to DJs and watching the sun set.

Bicycling around Copenhagen was wonderful because we were able to tour the mainstream areas as well as Christiania, also known as Freetown, a neighborhood established on an old army base where residents have lived “off the grid” since the ’70s and are free to create their own drug laws, building codes and traffic enforcement — there is some pretty creative and unique architecture there.

More amazing architecture was on display at the &Tradition showroom, a beautiful old warehouse inside of which a small “village” of showrooms was designed by Norm architects to house the gorgeous product line.

The Dinesen House and Dinesen showrooms were also incredibly inspiring, and we were able to meet famous Danish designer Thomas Lykke from OeO design studio, who designed the space.

At Ruckstuhl we were welcomed and given a private tour of the Swiss carpet manufacturing and production facilities by third-generation owner Peter Ruckstuhl. We also got to peek into the design studio to see previews of the next season’s collaborations.

Oh, and I also loved the Paul Klee museum, which was designed by Renzo Piano.

Absolutely. I would be honored to participate in another inspiration tour. 

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