In Praise of Clutter
May 09, 2017 - Inspiration
Do you ever look at interiors magazines and think ‘that’s very nice, but where is all of their stuff?’ or ‘does anyone live here or is it just a show home?’. I mean, lots of those very tidy, John Pawsonesque houses are elegant and nice to look at, but without stuff everywhere they lack soul. In some ways I admire the idea that you can own very little stuff and display even less. But I’ve been a hoarder since I was a child when I would collect everything; sweets I liked the look of and so couldn’t eat, tickets, souvenirs, packaging, even beer mats (long before I could drink the stuff). I’d display all of this stuff in my room and change it whenever I tired of it or could find nothing else to do.
I think clutter at home or in the office is underestimated. It says something about the people that live and work there. Almost everything you own has a story, whether you realise it or not and this is why it deserves to be displayed. Some objects such as your old passport tell obvious stories, others have a quieter presence….that book of matches you picked up on your first trip to Rome, those weird sweets you used to love. Either way, the objects that make up our clutter define who we are in much more interesting ways than the art on our walls, the clothes that we wear or the cars that we drive. These little bits and bobs -mugs, match boxes, tickets, pencils- are the layers of our life that tell our friends and family about us and, displayed correctly, can really add character and warmth to a place. They’re the things that make people linger, than remind them that people occupy the space, that truly reveal who we are and what we like.
Of course, there’s something great about a good clean-out and I’ve just enjoyed a really good Spring Clean (I took four big boxes to the charity shop). You have to be in a fairly ruthless mood to affect a really good Spring Clean. But the best bit is that you discover stuff that you’d forgotten you had that can make for new displays. The disadvantage of clutter? We’ll, it’s hell to clean. But a bit of dust never hurt anyone.