"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
In our About Us page, I referred to this William Morris quotation as 'a bit of a cliche'. I did so because I suspect (know) that ours is far from the only lifestyle store to refer to this quote to try and explain what they're aiming to achieve with their product range. It seems almost like an industry mantra.
This doesn't make it any less of an ideal to aspire to, however. I think it's so widely used as it so perfectly sums up a particular lifestyle aspiration. Morris originally said this in the 1880s, and in many ways it feels more relevant now than ever before. In decades gone by, most notably with the rampant capitalism of the 1980s, it seemed that everyone was filling their houses to the rafters with mass produced tat, a significant proportion of which was neither useful, nor beautiful... and probably not-very-well made (under not-very-nice conditions). Many people I think still feel weighed down by their possessions, or simply overwhelmed by clutter and where to put it all.
All of us are consumers. But as consumers we are becoming increasingly mindful of the 'cost' of this consumption, not just a fiscally, but psychologically, socially, environmentally, and in many other ways besides. All of us could benefit from a more minimalist approach to the ownership of 'things'. Equally, there's nothing wrong with owning stuff if it makes you happy, rather than the opposite... right? I'm definitely not throwing my weight behind those guys who expound the bin-all-your-stuff-it-will-set-you-free school of minimalism. That seems too brutal to me. I like my stuff. I just wish there wasn't quite so much of it.
So how does a desire for an attractive home filled with lovely things sit together with a desire to reduce one's carbon footprint, to live sustainably, and to live an uncluttered life? I think the answer here is to source products which are both useful and beautiful. There's nothing wrong with owning things, as long as your things don't own you.
Many items are essential; cleaning products for example. But just because they're essential doesn't mean they have to be nondescript, or ugly. By way of an example (yes we've got to the product plug section of the blog post), look at this stylish sink caddy, soap dispenser and dish brush from Rig-Tig by Stelton.
You see what I'm getting at here. Useful and beautiful. Ok, maybe beautiful is a bit of a strong word for a dish brush, but certainly it's aesthetically pleasing.
This of course is the most extreme example... you can't get much more functional than a dish brush. The logic applies elsewhere too.
We should be buying less 'things' these days, of course we should. I don't think any sane person would argue with that, but one can be environmentally conscious, and still have 'stuff', still treat yourself.
I think the key is to buy less, but buy quality. Don't purchase something with the expectation of throwing it away and replacing it in 6 month's time. Step away from products that scream "built in obsolescence" at you. Don't buy something that's fashionable but not to your personal taste, it won't last. Instead, buy something that you can be proud of, objects you can cherish, products you hope to keep forever.
I genuinely hope that our little store is a place that enables you to do that :)