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Tiffany Chung

14 Feb 2022

Text by Tiffany Chung

ØLÅF Citizens: Louis A W Sheridan

14 Feb 2022

To travel is to live and Louis A. W. Sheridan has elevated travel into an aspirational lifestyle. Through photography, writing, and a keen creative eye, Sheridan has become an industry expert. In this edition of Citizens, he tells us about his journey from fashion writer to founder of Discover & Escape studio and creative director of Mr & Mrs Smith – the travel club for hotel lovers.

 

Hey Louis, how did you get into photography and writing?

“I started taking photos when I was pretty young, like a teenager just carrying around a camera, taking pictures of friends skateboarding and street stuff, really trying to find my vision. Later on I studied photography which started to kill my love for it a bit. It made it a very formulaic process and removed some of the magic for me.

 

At the same time, I started to write more and found myself feeling like writing was where I could be creative and engaged without barriers. So professionally, I started out in fashion. I was a writer first and foremost, reviewing shows, writing stories for some niche magazines, and then interning for the bigger ones. Alongside this my photos started to become more fashion focused. I was shooting new faces for model agencies and the odd editorial, which felt refreshing."

 

How did you make the transition to travel?

“Through fashion, I found that travel was the most engaging element to anything I was doing. That was the part that was standing out above everything else. New people, new places. It was a natural segue into travel – I created an editorial platform, D&E (Discover & Escape) with my partner, and started trying to blend these two worlds. We were approaching people in fashion, film, and music but sneaking to them purely about travel. ‘Everything through a travel lens’. Everyone had so much to say about this wild world of travel, and it snowballed from there."

Paris.

Hoshinoya 星のや東京.

 

So, from that platform you created your studio.

“Yeah, it started off as an editorial platform and gradually transformed into a creative consultancy slash studio. We've got photographers, writers, designers, developers globally and are connecting the dots between businesses and creatives. There was luck involved in that we started at a time when Instagram was first taking off, so aesthetics became more important to businesses than ever before and we had the keys."

 

Any tips on starting your own studio or business?

“Honestly, some of my tips are probably outdated because so much happened organically and the landscape changes weekly. I guess if I were to do it now, I would say, it's worth having either an exit plan or a scaling plan from the very beginning. It’s not cool to talk about in the creative world but if you get to a certain point where you know you either want to move on to something else, or you want to bring other people in, but everything behind the scenes is really messy, it's going to be difficult. The other tip is that the personal relationship is always the most important part of the working relationship. Wherever you are in the world, you're probably not that far from an extremely talented writer, photographer, social media manager, designer, or whoever you need, and so you can afford to be picky and work with someone you identify with on a deeper level."

 

Bhutan.

 

As creative director at Mr & Mrs Smith, tell us what kind of hotel makes the list.

“Hotels with genuine soul. Passion projects, dreams that have been realised, and places you’d actually want to live. They have a focus on design and style whilst still being authentic, and your overall experience there is a memory you play on repeat. We’re also looking for hotels that transcend travel, the places that consider their local impact and how they can weave sustainability into what they do. We have places like an isolated cabin in the wilds of Norway, and then there’s an old school New York hotel with bellboys and tasseled keys – the common thread between those places is they both care about what they're doing. There is an obvious love for what they do, and it’s infectious."

 

What are your 2022 travel trend predictions?

“The last few years we’ve all spoken about experiential travel a lot. But I think we’re moving beyond it, more the idea of fully immersing yourself in culture and embracing a lifestyle entirely, it's no longer enough to just pick from a list of experiences. Instead, it's a more engaged way of travel where you get to experience and gain insight into how other people really live. Like your own alternate reality is out there waiting for you."

Switzerland.

Paris.

 

How do you think the pandemic affected a traveler’s mindset?

“I think the pandemic almost forced people into looking at what it is they actually want to do when they have the choice, what drives them most, and every decision on how we spend our time is even more important than it was before. So, I think with travel, there's a lot more meaning and emphasis on each trip we take. We’re looking for those memories we can play on repeat in the future."

 

Name your top 5 must-have travel items.

“Camera, number one. A laptop or my phone. With a fully charged phone you can do anything. A USB for impromptu DJ sets. If there's a chance to get behind the decks, it's going to happen. A double-breasted blazer or sports jacket. You never know where you're going to end up, and sometimes “black tie” is like an access all areas pass. And then a pen, a sharpie specifically."

 

Tesla – Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.

Greece.

 

Do you dress for style or comfort on planes?

“Style. I blame the fashion background. But I can still wear stuff that looks cool and is functional. I like to travel as light as possible. I have this Jacquemus field jacket I always travel with. It's got like six pockets on the front that I can fill with batteries, passports, chargers, anything. That's always a good one."

 

Let’s play a ‘this or that’ game, travel edition.

 

Mountain or beach?

“Mountain."

 

Winter or summer?

“Winter."

 

City or countryside?

“Countryside. I'm going for wild here."

 

Costa Brava.

 

Car, train, or plane?

“Car, or all three?”"

 

Travel alone or together?

“Together."

 

Plan or go with the flow?

“100% no plans… with some advance planning.""

 

When you're not traveling, what are you doing?

“As a photographer, I might be shooting projects for different brands and magazines or personal projects. I’m DJing and working on events and music with the Audio Coming Soon guys. I'm dabbling with more art focussed projects at the moment and getting ready to release some works for the first time. It's exciting, I've been working and drafting for years and now I feel so ready to just put more things out into the world. I'm in a fortunate position in that everything I do sort of flows into one another."

 

Do you think London is always going to be your home base?

“I don't know. I'm originally from the countryside so I'm still always drawn to nature. But I love being around people, I love meeting new people, and I feel like the energy in London is so good that it makes me feel driven in a way that’s hard to replicate. I love being in the city, but I travel quite a lot. If I had to be home full time, I'd maybe choose somewhere that was even more closely linked to nature."

 

Balearic Islands.

New York.

 

Speaking of inspiration, name a person, a place, and a thing that inspires you.

So many people, from my friends and family to random encounters that stay with me. The well worn phrase that “ everyone has an interesting story if you look for it” really is the most obvious truth. I read a lot and I'm inspired by a lot of writers, at the moment it’s Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and Haruki Murakami. I also love people that just do things differently and are open to new ideas. Obviously, Virgil Abloh is a massive inspiration just in terms of leading with a sort of radiant positivity about everything and everyone.

 

A place that inspires me… at the moment maybe the Swiss Alps or Rajasthan. I know they're both worlds apart. But Switzerland is addictive, visually ridiculous and time there is deeply restorative. And India is on another level. Everything is more vivid, the colours, sights and sounds are all dialled up to an extreme that makes everywhere else feel flat for a while afterwards. I think it was A. A. Gill who described it as 'the world with the lid taken off.

 

For a thing, a blank canvas is very exciting to me. Or even hotel stationary, a blank notepad and there's a pencil or pen next to it, I can't not be writing or doodling or doing something on there. As part of the studio here, I have an easel set up with canvases. If it's blank, I feel drawn to it. I want to create. I want to do things."