As I stood on the deck of the Starfire and looked out at St. Petersburg and the Neva River as it flowed into the Baltic Sea, the word that came into my mind was appreciation.

I had plenty to appreciate in that moment. I was on an incredible yacht, with some of my best friends, in a fascinating place where I had never been before, and we were celebrating the third anniversary of AFAR magazine. I have had some incredible travel experiences, and this was another one to appreciate.

I think one of the reasons AFAR has succeeded is that we try to appreciate the world in all its diversity: from street food to gourmet restaurants, from yurts to villas, from Dhaka to Paris. Sailing on a yacht in the Baltic was definitely a luxury. But when we decided to launch AFAR, we took the approach that it is not just the number of zeros in the price tag that denotes quality or desirability. Our focus has been on the experience.

We don’t believe that appreciation requires ignoring problems or glossing over reality. To the contrary, true appreciation entails a focus on the positive that can come from any experience. All it takes is an openness to the new and unfamiliar, a respect for the past, and a confidence in our shared future.

We believe that approaching the world in this way allows you to live a richer, deeper, and more meaningful life. This is AFAR’s definition of luxury.

In this issue, we’re bringing this approach to the world of objects. For our first Culture and Design issue, we introduce you to creators and craftspeople who take what is inspiring about a place—the people, the energy, the landscape, the history—and put it into what they make, be it a custom suit in Naples, contemporary art in Dublin, or a dessert in Bali. As we always do at AFAR, we’ve sought out the authentic, the unique, and the thoughtful.

I think those are attributes we can all appreciate.

Good travels,

Greg Sullivan

This appeared in the September 2012 issue.