According to an article published in 2014 by the LA Times the average American household has 300,000 items of ‘stuff’.
Now, I’m not going to lie, l like stuff. Particularly nice stuff. I’m an Interior Designer – buying, recommending and creating stuff is what I do!
We spend so much time of our lives surviving that I figure we kind of deserve to have nice things. But how much nice things do we actually need? And, are those things even nice?
As an interior designer I am continuously confronted by consumerism, marketing, sales and trends. Attributes of the industry that I find personally frustrating and often cause conflicting emotions. Have I made the right decision creating Harlo? Is this something that I want to contribute to? Why can’t I stay strong to my beliefs and still do what I love?
Saying hello to consciousness.
We live in a time of want and immediate accessibility. So often I see misguided design decisions based on impatience and lack of thought. “This. Will. Do”. Three words that send shivers up my spine. So here, I put forward to you my replacement – Sustainability. Longevity. Functionality.
I won’t bore you with the known truths about our wonderful world and its very sad predicted future. Knowledge is one of our keys strengths in moving forward and making change. This knowledge is also something that tends to quietly sit hidden away in our brain waiting to be bulldozed by emotion and impulse.
Take your time.
Your space is precious & so is your money. It’s so easy for us to go to a budget store and buy a budget chair that serves its budget purpose. I’m not going to go all Marie Kondo on you and get you to ask the question, ‘does it bring you joy?’ because my vacuum cleaner doesn’t exactly bring me joy as I hold it with my apathetic, tired little hands. But I will ask you to take your time.
Take your time to find that something that you really want. Something that isn’t just going to last this season. That isn’t going to break next year. That isn’t going to spend one year of its life in your house and then the next billion buried underground at a waste facility. Something with longevity. Something that, (ok Marie you win), will bring you joy now, and in the years to come.
Purchase with purpose.
Know your product. Ask the suppliers the questions. The more we ask, the more they see the demand and more they try and meet that demand. Do your research. What’s it made out of? How was it made, and by whom? Were they paid fairly? What kind of business is my hard-earnt money supporting? We are so spoilt for choice it’s up to us to start making the right ones.
This process doesn’t have to be costly. The large majority of chairs in my house are either from the op shop, tip, or have been handed down by our tasteful ancestors. My current hard wood dining table was found half rotted in someone’s front yard with a ‘free’ sign on it. It cost me less to restore than a budget table would have cost to buy new, has served us nearly 10 years & I have only just seen something very similar to it going for over $1000 new.
While your purchasing process doesn’t have to be costly, if you can, I definitely encourage you to go into a designer store. Develop an understanding and appreciation for creativity, exclusivity, quality and craftsmanship. Notice how being surrounded by it makes your insides feel because it’s that feeling that you want every time you walk into your front door.
Be selective. Research and reach out.
Please don’t feel like you have to style your coffee table. Particularly with a book that has a spectacular cover that is just going to sit there and never be read, or a candle that will never be lit, or any other dust collecting bit of ‘stuff’ that will never be used or provide you with any sort of emotional enhancement. It’s not a matter of function over fashion - a good design can and should give you both worlds.
An accessible design service is something that I have really committed myself to. Using affordable services such as Harlo’s Ask for 30 can help guide you and inform your decisions. Hiring a trained eye is well worth the investment. These days we are blessed to be surrounded by so much talent so finding the right service to suit your style and needs should come easy.
Sometimes sustainability, longevity and function aren’t always an option. Sometimes these factors don’t always work in our designs, or they just aren’t what we want at that time. And that’s ok. Conscious design doesn’t mean that we then need to succumb ourselves to guilt when unattainable. Our awareness and endeavours are applaudable. We shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for having stuff– let’s just make it the right stuff.
Thank you for taking the time.
Looking for the right stuff? - look for texture, quality, craftsmanship, a guilt free story and an overwhelming feeling of appreciation and adoration.