Good design enhances every aspect of the travel experience. Walking into a beautifully built air terminal or railway station can ease the stress of transport; the architecture of a museum, shop, or restaurant can complement—and even elevate—the sensory pleasures served up inside. A well-designed park or public square functions as a doorway onto a destination, through which you can observe, and begin to explore, the culture of a new place; and the shape and style of a hotel—the way it blends into its landscape, the lines of its furniture, the views from its windows—can make the difference between a trip and the trip of a lifetime.
Naturally, we at Travel + Leisure take the business of design very seriously. So when it came time to choose the year’s best design innovations—in 15 different travel categories—we brought in the experts. Our panel of seven judges (architects, museum directors, industrial and fashion designers) comes from the upper echelons of the design world.
They weighed in on everything: from the world’s best-designed resort to the best suitcase to carry there (hint: one’s in Southeast Asia, the other’s from France). They chose the most fabulous new places to see art (both indoors and outdoors); the coolest camera to photograph it with; and even the best jacket to wear while doing so.
Memorable travel, after all, is equal parts efficiency and beauty, form and function. And if you’re going to explore the world, better to do it by design.
Philanthropist Agnes Gund is the president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art. She is also chair of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission for New York City.
John Hoke is the head of design for Nike. He helped develop the Shox cushioning system, one of the brand’s signature features.
After working for Geoffrey Beene, Gucci and Bergdorf Goodman, Richard Lambertson cofounded (with John Truex) the luxury leather goods company Lambertson Truex in 1998. The partners were honored as accessory designers of the year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2000.
Renée Price is the director of the Neue Galerie New York, a museum for German and Austrian art. She curated the current exhibition, “Gustav Klimt: The Ronald S. Lauder and Serge Sabarsky Collections.”
Architect Hani Rashid is the cofounder, with Lise Anne Couture, of Asymptote. Designs for the Penang Global City Center in Malaysia and pavilions for the planned Guggenheim Pavilions on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island are among the New York firm’s recent works.
Architect David Rockwell founded the New York–based Rockwell Group in 1984. The firm’s numerous projects include W Hotels, Nobu restaurants, Broadway set designs and an innovative children’s playground in downtown Manhattan.
Fashion designer Yeohlee Teng established her company, Yeohlee, in 1981. She won the Fashion Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in 2004, and her work is in the Costume Institute collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.