Credit: Richard Phibbs

You may not think of yourself this way, but chances are if you’re a traveler, you’re an aficionado of good design. I was having this thought yesterday as I downloaded some novels onto my Kindle for a marathon trip to Asia that begins later this week. I also added locations—even Sanya, on Hainan Island off southern China—to the weather app on my new iPhone and installed a free Skype app, too. I will be packing, beginning tonight (I have greater success in avoiding excess when I stretch this task out over a few days), in my favorite suitcases: one standard black wheelie to check, with a new red luggage tag for identification purposes, and one smaller roll-aboard. The latter was chosen through trial and error—a series of purchases, a couple of them significant—which ultimately led me to the winner: a SwissGear Lugano wheeled duffel bag from Target (available online for $89.99). As for clothing, I have my packable favorites, including a couple of uncrushable pieces from a former member of T+L’s Design Awards jury, Yeohlee Teng, the Malaysian-born, New York City–based fashion designer known for her use of high-tech fabrics and architectural silhouettes.

Speaking of design and our Design Awards jury—this year, another esteemed group, including Terence Conran, who flew in from London; New York City’s own Isaac Mizrahi; and Michael Smith, the Obamas’ anointed White House decorator, who arrived from L.A.—selected a far-reaching and often surprising slate of winners. It is also a great pleasure to recognize Adrian Zecha, founder and guiding spirit of the Asia-based Amanresorts, as our 2010 Design Champion. A true innovator in the world of travel, Zecha introduced an entirely new concept in luxury travel that emphasizes authenticity and regional relevance as well as drama and simplicity when his first property, Amanpuri, launched in 1988 on the then-little-known Thai island of Phuket. For three decades, his influence has fanned out across the hotel industry, and powerfully resonates far beyond this sector in today’s significant trend toward understated elegance.

Also in this issue, you will find our annual global roundup of easy and affordable beach hotels, as well as wine and spirits editor Bruce Schoenfeld’s account of his recent restaurant tour; editor-at-large Peter Jon Lindberg’s inside look at the extraordinary new Oasis of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship; and contributing editor Jeff Wise’s comprehensive directory of the 33 top adventure outfitters. At the heart of it all—whether a new mobile device, cruise ship, or biking trip—is that essential element: good design.

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Twitter: @nnovogro