The shop will go dark for a week as we travel to Paris for Maison & Object, an international design show that happens twice a year. We’re, of course, thrilled to be back in Paris, a city that offers an unparalleled aesthetic in every limestone corner. But planning the trip has got us thinking about the nature of travel - not just physically leaving home but, generally speaking, leaving what you know in favor of exploring what you don’t. It’s certainly an easier task to shift your vantage point when things around you are different: geography, language and food all serve as announcements in a cultural shift. But the decision to fully embrace an alternate perspective has to be willful on some level. It’s easy for any one of us to leave home and to observe the way others live. But if we return unchanged, or even desperate to return to familiar habits, then we haven’t really fundamentally explored the world at all. The goal of any travel is to get from one point to another. If the hope were only to get back home then it’d be more of an errand or even a chore - but not a true adventure and certainly not a learning experience. 

We tell students (of any age) that immersion is the best way to learn a language and the same holds true, microcosmically, for any trip away from home. It’s the one instance in which it’s far better to receive than to give, more productive to absorb than to offer. One of great things about moving to Providence from New York City, twenty-three years ago, was the history, alive in nearly every house on every street. We tend to tear things down in Manhattan, in favor of something bigger and more modern. But Rhode Island is a living history lesson that many of us actually get to interact with on a daily basis. Living here hasn’t dissipated my affection for NYC - but it has expanded my appreciation for this country. Likewise, the first time I was in Paris, I was stunned by the beauty and the uniformity of Parisian architecture. There’s a unified cultural spirit in the city that American cities happily forfeit in favor of individual vitality. But again, the grandeur of Paris has never eclipsed what’s unique about New England; it’s simply given me a broader understanding of what a city can be, how a culture might be manifested, why a trip abroad is tantamount to a more expansive life. 

Schooling often gets short shrift in conversation - people often bemoan the effort it takes to memorize and synthesize new information. But traveling is the very best sort of school: everything has already been distilled and is delivered with such generosity that all the student needs to do is watch the world unfurl in joyous and unbridled fashion. It’s a privileged form of living and we can’t wait to welcome the experience again.