“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.” — Claude Monet
To create a home that nurtures and inspires, we have to dig beneath the surface. Exploring our personal archaeology, or Self-Archaeology, is challenging, but it is definitely worth the effort. Remembering where we have been helps us find our way in the future. To make the excavation process easier, try making a timeline to show how your personal style has changed over the years from your early twenties to the age that you are today. Above the timeline describe where you have lived. Below the line, describe or draw what you wore at that time and what was in your room, apartment, or home. Use magazine clippings and family photos too. Have fun with the process. It will provide clarity and help you make design decisions in the future.
Here is a video that I show when I lead the Self-Archaeology exercise during design retreats.
Creating tablescapes is a fun way to add beauty to everyday living , to explore new ideas, and to connect with nature. Instead of using artificial items manufactured in bulk, try using natural objects from the earth that are available at your fingertips in the grocery store. Here are a few of my favorite things:
For the holidays, purchase a variety of fruits. Look for different shapes and sizes. Pomegranates, grapes, pears, lemons, and oranges have worked really well for me in the past. Coat the different fruits with egg white, roll them in granulated sugar, and then let them dry. Once the sugar has hardened, have fun arranging the fruit pieces on cake stands, trays, or in any favorite bowls. Tuck in sprigs of fresh evergreen to frame the fruit. Perfect for the holidays.
Grapevine wreaths are available at most craft stores in various sizes. Break apart the wreaths until you have long strands of grapevine to use. Feel free to cut the strands. Drape them around centerpieces, wind them around pillar candles in hurricane lamps, or fill a clear decorative bowl with grapevine and water and add a few fresh flowers. Grapevine also makes gorgeous garland on holiday trees.
Gather up artichokes and green beans at the market and use them to create beautiful tablescapes for entertaining. Try filling terracotta pots of different heights with artichokes. Simply beautiful and natural. I also like to use artichokes as candleholders. Hollow out some artichokes, place small candles in them and cluster them in your tablescape to add glow and texture. Green beans work well with candles too. Take a pillar candle and wrap a rubber band around it. Place green beans between the rubber band and the candle until you have a ring of green beans around the candle. Cover the rubber band with a decorative ribbon. Voilà!
At the 2008 Art Center Design Conference in Pasadena, California, Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO, which is a firm specializing in design and innovation delivered a seminar entitled Serious Play. During his time on stage, Brown made a strong case for the critical connection between play and creativity. As kids, we are free to play. Taking risks without fear of judgement, exploring how ordinary objects can be used in fantastical ways, and seeing potential possibilities are what kids do everyday. Being a kid is being creative. Brown goes on to say that as adults we need to bring back play in the workplace to foster creativity. The key is to create environments based on trust that allow adults to explore divergent thinking through brainstorming to give full range to our ideas and to build environments that encourage thinking by doing, hands-on building, and role playing.
The ideas in Serious Play are exciting. The seminar got me thinking. Should we bring back play only in the workplace? What about home? Building fun environments based on trust to foster creativity in our personal lives could be very powerful. Just a little food for thought.
On not being able to paint: with illustrations by the author.
The whole thrill of junking is that you just know the next table will have what you’ve been looking for all your life. — Mary Randolph Carter
Grand or not so Grand Tours
Exploring unfamiliar destinations has a direct impact on thinking. We bring back creative ideas as well as a new way of looking at the world. Don't hesitate to leave your comfortable nest.Traveling is transformative. Bon voyage!
What inspires you? What gets your creative juices flowing? Here are some snapshots to get the conversation started.