Driving out into the vast openness of the American “wilderness” is inherent in this country’s fabric. Although the Wild West was “tamed” and Manifest Destiny proclaimed a good century before, the mid-20th century car manufacturers used the notion of driving out into nature to illustrate the national history of exploration. The wing-tipped flanks of the vehicles rolling off the production line during the post-war era tied into the next great American adventure into the unknown: space exploration. This desire to continue to explore helps illustrate America as the land of the free and home of the brave.
With modern travel and communication, as well as our understanding of the impact of fossil fuels on global warming, it’s hard to have the same fervor for passively spending Sunday afternoon driving into the country (although I concede that we still pack into the car for Christmas-light tours or to see the New England trees change color). As someone who travels often for work and lives smack-dab in the middle of the country between family members in California and New York, I don’t envy the days in which heading out onto the road for the job meant hours—if not days—behind the wheel or on a train.
But there is so much that you miss 30,000 feet in the air. I have driven cross-country, or across half the country, a number of times and as much as America is known for its large metropolises, a majority of this nation is quite quirky. Did you know that in the middle of the Arizona desert there’s a combo McDonald’s-casino? You can easily find it because it’s the only thing around and there’s a massive American flag flying over it.
The point is, there’s so much personality in local spots that are easy to miss.
Here at i+s, we take reader comments seriously. We read every email and survey. One thing we hear often is you want stories from outside the same ol’ major urban centers. With only a portion of interiors existing in large cities, it’s understandable our readers would want to hear about designs that show off the quirks and beauty of this nation. While we try to pull in a variety of products and projects from all over the country, we take special care with our Local Issue to find and celebrate the designs that may be off the beaten path. Consider this issue’s Product in Placement on Peace Design’s work updating a beloved Montana saloon or how Indianapolis-based Axis Architecture + Interiors updates Midwestern office spaces based on end users’ needs in this month's Profile.
Even if a road trip isn’t on the horizon, I hope the stories in this issue can showcase some of those nooks and crannies that make this country so wonderful.