I’ve been hitting up against the heavy “shoulds”, “coulds”, and “supposed to’s” as of late. I don’t like those. They leave me feeling… exhausted.
I SHOULD be writing about interior design. I COULD be posting all kinds of pretty pictures. I’m SUPPOSED TO be interested in the ever-expanding line-up of this month’s latest and greatest.
It’s not happening.
The harder I push, the harder I struggle. My message gets distorted. My creativity withers. And so I retreat, content to bask in the silence and work on projects behind the scenes. But the struggle returns, wreaking havoc with my daily rhythm and interfering with my inspired flow. My issue?
Decorating. The word, specifically.
–verb (used with object), -rat·ed, -rat·ing.
1. to furnish or adorn with something ornamental or becoming; embellish
Ornamentation… embellishment… uh huh. Do you know what that sounds like to me? Crap. Junk. Useless, meaningless bullshittery. Consumerism. Mindless trend-following. Vanity. Shallow “pretty-making”.
So all this tail-chasing, this spinning in place, is connected to my irrational distaste for the very definition of my chosen life’s work. A dangerous dichotomy, n’est pas?
You see, on the whole, I’m not particularly fond of the decorating industry; the constant search for this month’s shiny new thing and the “mwah” superficiality rather than a focus on the deeper correlation and interrelationship of space and well-being. And so I dip a toe in the water and wonder why I have a sudden disinterest in swimming.
Part of my behind-the-scenes work has involved the refinement of my organizational coaching services (particularly popular after the Christmas season, ahem). I help clients deal with the de-construction and analysis of a space; uncovering the deeply buried, core trigger-type issues that lurk beneath the service and interfere with the unearthing of one’s true visual melody. (Heady stuff, and highly recommended before dropping some hard-earned dough on your next ‘decorating’ project.) As part of this refinement process, I’ve been reading with intense interest the evolving nature of the minimalist and simple living movements. Minimalism/materialism debate aside, Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle does a damned fine job of articulating the philosophy in ‘Minimalism Explained’. Go on, have a read.
So while I’ve been pulling on the threads and picking at the edges of my procrastination and staccato rhythm, I’ve been allowing the silence to reveal some deeper truths about my creative work. Decorating, by and large, has always meant the addition of surface ornamentation and embellishment, rather than the subtraction of all that does not serve a purpose (beauty or otherwise). My edges fray most intensely when I cannot reconcile the two.
Thus, if it weren’t for all the negative connotations and the ongoing debate surrounding its true definition in this increasingly digital world, I would certainly define myself as a ‘minimalist'; hard stance when my profession classifies me as a decorator.
(double toe curl)
But I also have a deep and loyal affinity for my possessions (which ultimately excludes me from a large sector of the current minimalist movement). After all, my things have been through the clarifying fire of scrutiny. I have thoughtfully chosen them. And that’s at the heart of what we’re talking about here… understanding the difference between ‘ornamental embellishment’ and digging at the roots of the ‘why’ of stuff.
So, here’s how I’ve untangled the conundrum: I decorate to unearth the visual and tactile beauty as an expression of a client’s life (not as idealistic as it sounds). I decorate to increase the productivity and efficiency of a particular space. I decorate because it brings me deep and satisfying pleasure.
Just don’t call me a decorator, k?