For this writer, home is a physical and emotional expression of the soul, a private space that shelters many of the objects, memories and experiences that matter most. Home is my utopia.
We often lose sight of simple, daily pleasures and acts. Walking barefoot on a hardwood floor, feeling its smooth grain kiss the soles of our feet. Savouring the aroma of hand-brewed coffee, waiting patiently as the water drips through the freshly ground beans. Enjoying the gentle caress of a soft woollen throw or perusing the pages of a real paper book, while basking in the warm glow of a handsome light.
In many ways, we have lost an authentic connection with objects—those things that make a home feel safe and secure, cheerful and cosy.
Every individual will have their own sense of utopia. One utopian vision that revolves around the home and its objects can be found in the Shakers. Often recognised as the first minimalists, their approach is synonymous with a style that is utilitarian, simple and honestly expressed. Non-materialistic, the Shakers reject ornamentation, crafting objects and furnishings that are unfussy and unobtrusive. Theirs is a particular type of utopian ideal and one that has influenced the way in which a number of today’s modern designers think about design. Check out ‘Furnishing Utopia’ for some thoughtful examples of this.*
A Shaker lifestyle is a radical one, but their design philosophy has a certain utopian appeal. Ideally, the things we choose to live with should have personal meaning and significance. At home, we should seek to enjoy a real sense of happiness and fulfilment, choosing the things and experiences that make us smile. By making informed choices, we are more likely to appreciate the true value of an object. Our connections with objects are important because the things we cherish, grow with and love are a part of what imbues our home with a sense of utopia.
Some recommendations for enjoying those simple, daily pleasures and utopia at home:
A hardwood floor: try Dinesen, the family-owned Danish wooden flooring company.
Hand brewed coffee: try brewing with Japanese brand Hario’s V60 pour-over coffee dripper.
A soft woollen throw: try Finnish designer Klaus Haapaniemi’s magical wool Taika throw for Iittala.
A real paper book: Hanya Yanagihara’s ‘ALittle Life’ is a tour de force.
A handsome light: it has to be LZF’s handmade Piknik.
About the author: Gerard McGuickin writes and lives in Belfast about design, sustainability and emotional design amongst other topics. You can follow the author in Twitter (@WalnutGrey) and his website.
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