30 March 2012

Less Is More

By K2D2vaca Source: Flickr

I have been feeling overwhelmed by all the objects surrounding me lately. I don't know if it is my wardrobe editing process that spread over the rest of my possessions, or if my discomfort towards my consumption habits was already here before and initiated my wardrobe questioning in the first place.

Whatever the source, I am at a point in my life where I can't stand all that stuff around me anymore. My apartment is very small (30m²/323ft²) and I'm starting to find it inconveniently cluttered. I have started wondering about this as I started sleeping in hotel rooms a lot during my business travels. I feel at ease in hotel rooms: everything is conveniently thought for everyday use. There is a well thought closet for my clothes, space for all products and utilities in the bathroom, the towel is just near the shower, there is a small light for reading time near the bed etc.

As I can't afford a home designer to rethink my whole apartment organization (besides, we'll move soon), I decided to make my own research on the subject, hunting the Internet and libraries for reads about consumerism, tips to get rid of useless stuff and buy more cleverly, reorganizing my space to make it more convenient for everyday life.

Here is what I found.
First, I was surprised to see that I wasn't alone to be stuffed with my stuff. Minimalism was the first movement I came across, but then I found a lot of ideas, interrogations and theories from bloggers, sociologists, psychologists, philosophers... Are we getting fed up with consumerism?

  • Life Edited
I could go on about this for pages, so I have chosen one intitiative in particular I wanted to share today, from a video available on TED :

Graham Hill,designer and founder of Life Edited, presents his project in a few minutes. As a designer, he created a small functional appartment called "Life Edited Apartment", wihch has exactly all the convenience I am craving in my own home.

Source: Life Edited

I found his whole philosophy about stuff very relevant too. His point is: less stuff means more happiness, more time. It also means more money - if you spend less, you have more left - and more freedom. Besides, it is environment friendly - less waste, less energy consumption. It gets, in a nutshell, all the questions I've been asking myself on the subject lately.

Here are the 3 points he recommends for an edited life in which we are not owned by our stuff anymore:

- Start with a ruthless editing of our possessions
The idea is to get rid of everything that is not essential. On his website he even mentions that sometimes, it is more valuable to get rid of a valuable useless object than to let it clutter your life. In order to keep things small, we also need to think about the new objects we buy. "Think before you buy", he says, choose stuff you will love for years.

- Think small
In order not to feel overwhelmed by objects, the best thing to do would be to go for small things, easy to store, chairs that pile up, a small table that stretches enough to get room for 10 people... If things are smaller, there is more space in your home.

- Think multifunctional
In his video, Graham Hill puts it as a third point, although I find it to be the logical consequence of "think small". If an object serves multiple purposes, it takes less space than having one specialised and seldom used object for everything. Take for example kitchen appliances: isn't it easier to have a multifunctional appliance that can be used for, say, 5 different purposes, than having 5 different appliances?

There are a lot of tips, articles and ideas to follow up on the Life Edited website, if you are interested too. As far as I am concerned, this got me thinking a lot, and I'll probably keep writing about the subject here...

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