This week, I thought I’d lighten your spirit with a gorgeous peek at some design in Europe… Switzerland, to be exact.
(In case you missed it, here’s how this California girl ended up in Switzerland.)
In general, Switzerland has done an incredible job of preserving the design and architecture of the past. I’ve seen buildings restored in the same centuries-old style they were first built in, and I’ve been inside others that I was shocked were still standing.
I can’t speak for the country, of course, but it seems to me that preserving the past and their traditions is part of their cultural identity — which includes architecture and design, village festivals, and traditions like cheese-making, wine production, and more.
Of course, if you’ve studied the history of design, you might also know that Switzerland is renowned for a different kind of design. Le Corbusier, one of the leaders of the Modernist movement of the early 1900s was born in Switzerland.
So imagine traditional design (like this residence shown below) side-by-side with extremely clean-lined, minimalist, modern design… and that’s Switzerland. 😉
Since we’ve all seen modernist design, and it’s much the same here as I’ve seen in the US, I’ll focus solely on the designs that are uniquely Swiss.
So, pour yourself a glass of something good and enjoy!
One of the first design elements you’ll notice in Switzerland are the colors of the homes. They speckle the landscape like soft, pastel-colored Easter eggs. Like this one…
City of Lucerne
City of Lucerne
However, if you take a train from the northern part of Switzerland to the southern, the view looks different. You’ll pass through an underground tunnel at 124 mph for 20 minutes — literally under the Swiss Alps — and on the other side is the Swiss-Italian part of Switzerland (Ticino).
Much like Italy, the homes you find here come in earthier tones, more Mediterranean tones. So in other words, for someone who doesn’t come from a colorful land (me), taking a train anywhere is a treat for the eyes!
The next thing you’ll notice about Swiss design? They do shutters right! There are shutters EVERYWHERE. And I do mean everywhere. Whether you’re in a tiny village in the Alps or busy city like Zurich, Bern, or Geneva, you will find homes and buildings with shutters.
And… these shutters are almost always accompanied by window boxes overflowing with colorful flowers. I actually think they should make shutter and flower color pairings a national sport; it’s so beautiful.
I also want to point out the different roofing/eaves situation in the last few photos — so different, but not even close to anything we’re used to seeing in the U.S.
In fact, I have a friend who attended high school in Switzerland, and she said their cultural education included looking at the shape and construction of barns and identifying which region of the country each originated from. Fascinating!
Next up, stripes and pinstripes. Pair these with bold colors and you have eye-catching designs for days. I’ve seen this style used widely with restaurants and buildings, on the exterior of homes, and even on church doors, like this one:
City of Lucerne
Even more fun is when they put pastels, bold color, stripes, and shutters together in one!
Town of Neuchâtel
This city square in Neuchâtel is probably my favorite place to soak up design in all of Switzerland. The candy-striped shutters of the L’Aubier Hotel feel so assertive yet completely charming. There’s actually a cafe on the bottom floor, where I’ve enjoyed several working hours and a fresh-pressed carrot and ginger juice.
Among the highly varied and wildly creative roofing styles in Switzerland, you’ll also find steeples and turrets. Steeples are particularly common for churches, while turrets can be found on homes and buildings, most of which come from the Medieval parts of town.
I’ve walked by this church dozens of times, and it was never so beautiful as it was when the white stone glowed pink in the evening sunset.
Another characteristic of Swiss design, especially churches and cathedrals, is to have a clock tower! Switzerland is famous for its production of watches (and clocks), and they chime the hour all over the country.
(Side note: I know a family who lives in an old watch factory, and their home is SO COOL.)
Of course, we can’t talk about Switzerland without mentioning the elephant in the room… nature. Year round, it never ceases to impress and has made me SO thankful for the even short amount of time I’ve been able to spend here each season:
What do you love most about traveling? Design? The history? Nature? I’d love to hear below!
I believe that life, like home, is meant to be designed. In just 3 years, I built a life I love and a business that supports interior designers across the globe. I’m obsessed with books, a bold red wine, and helping women rise in their power — and I believe that your freedom in business starts here. Read more >>