It’s been a week, or month depending on when you begin the Christmas festivities and decorating. From mince pies to mashed potatoes with lashings of onion gravy and on into the evening with cups of tea washed down with whatever biscuit tin looks promising; no reasonably sugar-coated food item was refused in the pursuit of a hedonistic hit needed to sustain both mind and body for the frantic pace of Christmas.
Much like my home this festive season, no surface was left undecorated. Every available space adorned with singing Santa’s, the big man playing the Sax, flashing signs asking ‘Santa to please STOP here’, several trees with branches laden down with memories in the form of every decoration my three girls have made since they could make them. Like a good old fashioned trifle, our home has been layered with festive fillings, a base of pine-needles smattered across mantelpieces and table-tops, real berries and the not-so-real co-exist for one month only atop said pine-needles, a smattering of fake snow for maximum Nordic novelty, topped off with smart lights, the equivalent of hundreds and thousands, a veritable assault on every sense.
I, we, are now all stuffed. We can’t bring ourselves to eat even one more sweet from the almost empty Roses box that our kind neighbour gifted us. I reluctantly peeled off the shiny wrapper from the ‘ tangy orange crème’ and winced as I took a bite. I don’t even like this , I thought to myself as I digested it, on some sort of gastronomic autopilot.
My visual and auditory senses are ‘ stuffed’ too; overworked and overloaded. My brain aches from a long month of over stimulation at every turn. Those innocent twinkling lights dispersed throughout the house that winked as I moved now thwart me with their menacing and chaotic flashing, all regulation long abandoned for nobody cares to change the settings at this late stage in the festivities. Like a wanton child, they’ve set their own routine now, all other routine has gone out of the proverbial window.
In a moment of madness yesterday, I declared the holidays to be over ( I am an ardent believer in January 6th normally) and instigated a decorative deconstruction ( there will be no mention of that horrible word detox)! Yesterday I was the most hated Mother of the Year as I boxed and scoured all trace of Christmas for another year.
What is left is still very much a home, with stuff and way too many things lying around. But it feels almost monastic ; it is, dare I say it- quiet again. I can feel the last drop of daylight drain away slowly in every room and the artificial twinkling that lulled us into a false sense of evening way too quickly is relegated to a box In the shed. My hand didn’t get caught in the garland wrapped around the banisters as I came down the stairs this morning and I remembered with familiarity the gliding motion my hand makes, subconsciously now as I begin each day.
There is so much comfort to be had in pared back surroundings, no need to label it as minimalism. The poetic justice of allowing light to enter and fall where it wishes, a space to stand in solitude, devoid of any furniture, a swirling void of silence for an anxious or weary mind to pause. It takes courage to occupy an empty space or a space not adorned with too much ‘stuff’; for the loudest sounds are those of your thoughts, clearly audible and unpolluted for the first time since the end of November when the madness of festive decorating began. Are we dulling our senses when we over-decorate our spaces and have we become numb to our real senses, our true feelings, our inner voices being heard in our most private of spaces; our homes?
Has our obsession with decorating our most inner sanctums become an unhealthy one that we need to ditch and perhaps it’s time to embrace a more sustainable and dare I say authentic design aesthetic that allows us to hear ourselves think, feel, and be.
Our design mantra for 2022 will be ‘ to look as if you left everything out, you have to sneak everything in’, for therein lies great design ( John Pawson). It really is about subtracting not adding ( Dieter Rams). Here’s to a more authentic year ahead, where hopefully people will start to look beyond trends and look within. For therein lies the best designs; it’s called authenticity.