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A trained visual artist and photographer with a travel obsession, Melanie Hönig spends up to four months a year exploring the globe and capturing images that can be turned into one-of-a-kind patterns for SmithHönig collections. Her travels have taken her into some unique places, to say the least. She’s attended dinner parties inside China’s Forbidden City, taught workshops in Crimean Tatar villages and served as an impromptu “lady in waiting” for Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York. No big deal.

What place inspires you most?

Venice.

What piece of decor in your home have you had the longest?

A pair of bergères I scored at a Salvation Army when I lived in Los Angeles. They’ve been reupholstered three times (so far).

Your perfect vacation in 3 words:

Leave. Me. Alone.

What’s the #1 design secret you’ve ever learned?

Everyone has their own color palette – you just have to uncover it.

Velvet or silk?

Velvet.

Silver or gold?

Platinum.

Urban escape or rural?

Is it a 15th-century villa in the countryside? Or an artist’s atelier in London? The room I get to wake up in will make the difference.

Fly or drive?

Drive.

Most underrated travel destination:

The American South.

Name the item in your home you can’t live without.

My lemon zester.

Favorite animal print?

Leopard.

What’s the best souvenir you’ve scored abroad?

The Murano chandelier in my dining room.

What are 3 items always in your travel bag?

Organizational cubes for packing, dry shampoo, and travel apps on my iPhone.

Your worst travel experience in one sentence:

The 5-hour flight that turned into 36. I didn’t even end up at the correct airport. Eventually, I was bused to a neighboring state in a snowstorm.

Your best travel experience in one sentence:

Alone in Venice for 6 perfect weeks.

Who would you most like to dine with at an international dinner party?

Stephen Colbert, Waris Ahluwalia, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Amal & George Clooney, Childish Gambino.

Any travel pet peeves?

People who stop at the top of escalators.

Any design pet peeves?

Rooms that are too match-y.

What’s next on your bucket list?

I want to dress for dinner on the Venice-Simplon Orient Express.

That’s the end. What are you going to do now?

Start packing.

(read Q&A with Kellie Smith here)

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