This past year has forced us all to shrink our lives in a way that few of us would have ever asked for. A question that has interested me throughout this life-changing year is when everyday pleasures and distractions are stripped away, what remains? For many of us, the questions and thoughts that always accompany us but we are often too distracted to attend to fully, have for the first time been allowed to take up the space they needed. For better and for worse.
And while this may not be what we would have wished for, it is fascinating to observe what our minds do when they are forced to make do with less: less human contact, less newness, less pleasure and less distraction.
For some of us this has been a year of struggling to keep up with what seems to have been an ever-changing situation that has required us to adapt over and over again. For others, this has been a year where most aspects of our lives have stood still. But whatever the circumstances we have found ourselves in, it has been a year of having to learn to live with our impatience and restlessness and to tolerate the discomfort that often comes with having to sit with things, whatever they may be.
In this light, I have considered the process of homemaking and the speed and haste with which we often approach this task from a new vantage point. The idea of slow, thoughtful homemaking and how it sits in juxtaposition to the pace of fast fashion has been on my mind for a few years now. After almost one year of living with a very distorted sense of time, it is interesting to pick this idea up again and look at it from the new perspective this unusual experience has granted us.
Some of you might be familiar with my great admiration for architect and theorist Christopher Alexander’s work (you can read more here). His writing often points to the fact that places that have evolved slowly over time are usually more full of life than those that emerge all at once. He raises the point that our spaces need to be adapted to the function and context of human needs that have called them into being. This adaptive process, he argues, is only successful when it occurs piecemeal, unfolding slowly rather than all at once.
In ‘The Nature of Order - An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe’, Alexander writes that “there are many indications that too careful a plan, too ridged an order in which each thing is supposed to take its proper place, actually works against function and inhibits proper adaptation.” Instead, he argues for the value in the slow evolution of space where our designs are allowed to evolve in harmony with the environments they emerge from and the various functions they are meant to fulfil.
When our world rushes at its normal speed, it can be hard to allow ourselves the time required to let things unfold at their own pace. I think if we stop to reflect, the haste that drives many of our actions is really just our own restlessness. The past year has forced many of us to take a slower approach to so many aspects of our life. The way we design our homes is just one of them. And although it may not be among those that matter most, the important lesson learned this year of questioning what drives our haste, can be applied to the way we approach our homes too.
For anyone with an interest in the subject of a slower, more thoughtful approach to home making, I have put together links to previous blog posts that cover this topic below:
- The value of a slow, considered approach to home-making.
- Ideas that might be helpful when taking a slower more considered approach to creating our homes.
- A blog post that draws inspiration from a historical text on home-making highlighting the value of patience in the final point (point 3).
Images above show our Handmade Linen Tablecloth and Napkin Sets in Off-White, Handmade Fluted Side Plate, Dinner Plate and Soup Bowls, Hand Carved Black Walnut Cutting Board, Classic French Table Glasses, The Clerk Coffee Pour Over Stand, Stone Washed Baguette Flatware Set, Handwoven Waffle Towel in Natural Unbleached Organic Cotton and Shuro Palm Trivets.