Interview with Jean-Paul Tennant, CEO of Geographic Expeditions

The 2019 San Francisco Fall Show is once again delighted to welcome Geographic Expeditions (GeoEx) as one of our principal sponsors. Considering the theme of the 2019 San Francisco Fall Show is “Wanderlust – Around the world with Art, Antiques, and Design” – this partnership seems especially apt this year: a pioneer of travel to remote and challenging destinations since 1982, Geographic Expeditions (GeoEx) crafts wanderlust-fueled journeys to the world’s most astonishing places. They are driven by their love of travel, their fascination with the destinations they are privileged to visit, and their delight in sharing them with like-minded enthusiasts. GeoEx pours their in-country expertise and passion for eyes-open travel into designing Group Trips and Custom Trips—cultural tours, treks, safaris, cruises, and journeys by train—to the widest array of destinations. We interviewed Jean-Paul Tennant, CEO of GeoEx, on his (and ours) most favorite subject matter:

What does Wanderlust mean to your personally?

For me, it means the thirst to explore our planet in order to personally experience and better understand its places, people, culture, and history.

What does it mean for GeoEx in the 21st Century?

We are living in a time in which we are inundated with global news that is often negative, and typically doesn’t come close to fully capturing the reality on the ground. Governments may not get along, yet the vast majority of people welcome travelers with kindness and curiosity. Learning about a country by meeting its people first-hand is probably one of the best things we can do right now. It erases our differences and shows how much we all have in common.

Which GeoEx travel destinations should art/antiques collectors consider, if they are looking for a unique buying experience?

That is a hard question! The list is potentially very long depending on one’s particular tastes and interests. Places that I would put high on the list: Japan, South Africa, Bolivia, Peru, Turkey, Ethiopia, and Iran. When shopping for art and antiques, it is important to be sensitive to local customs and regulations, as well as the possibility of misrepresentation. For those that are interested, we make a point of connecting our travelers to reputable sellers.

What are your favorite parts/events/aspects of the Show – and why?

It is incredible to see such a high caliber of art and antiques together under one roof! I love being able to talk directly with the dealer, who often not only worked hard to procure the particular piece, but who also knows everything about its provenance, art style, historic usage, etc. And the gala is outstanding! What better way to enjoy seeing the art and antiques than to supplement with beautiful decorations, delicious food and drink, and a crowd of passionate and interesting fellow-enthusiasts!

Lightning round:

Favorite decorative arts era

Art Nouveau

Favorite (fine) artist

Claude Monet (with honorable mention going to Alphonse Mucha)

Dream travel destination

Another difficult question! I feel fortunate to travel anywhere. Personally, I love deep, powerful cultures that are very different from our own. India and Japan are high on the list. Also, despite the fact that I could be accused of being biased, I highly recommend Mauritius. It is a gorgeous island with friendly people and a fascinating history. (I happen to be half-Mauritian.)

Words to live by

Since we’re talking about wanderlust, travel writer Don George says in his book The Way of Wanderlust, “Ultimately, I have come to think, travel teaches us about love. It teaches us that the very best we can do with our lives is to embrace the peoples, places, and cultures we meet with all our mind, heart, and soul, to live as fully as possible in every moment, every day. And it teaches us that this embrace is simultaneously a way of becoming whole and letting go.”

Rule to break

This is a travel rule – skip the popular tourist sites and instead go where the locals go.

Best advice you’ve ever gotten

Never stop learning.

Thank you Jean-Paul – and see you at the Show!