Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Simple Design

European furniture is always refreshing, especially Ikea, the Swedish manufacturer who provides the added benefit of being reasonably priced, although some items are sometimes difficult to assemble. The spirit of these items  is young, similar to the Japanese company Muji, which has the same simplicity and elegance in its products, freeing the mind from old  thinking, giving instead a liberating ‘out of the box’  mentality that embodies their work. It is a young man’s company and sometime one feels like a student, forever trying to remain young, instead of choosing more regular and boring designs that older people would choose, giving the feeling of a middle age person wearing a young man’s clothes, or even having surgery to remain youthful. But that is not the case, because the simplicity of design relieves stress, far from the usual drudgery that shackles the spirit; the daily trek to office, working with the usual folks, going home for the news, usual dinner of meat and rice; not a bad thing but deadening in spirit and not a good diet without vegetables. One thinks of the iPhone or rather iOS, where people get to experience brilliant simplicity of how things can be, without the clutter and muddled thinking of normal life.

We went to Charlotte and bought several things: rocking chair, bar stool, small step ladder, lap top stand, curtain rods and other paraphernalia, picture frame, clothes valet, whisky glasses and a wine carafe; normal items but laid elegant with the Ikea stamp. Buying stuff for the house is an age old tradition, the ‘money pit’ that people succumb to, then after all the effort, selling the place to move up to a bigger house, then going through the same cycle again. Sometimes it is a way to escape; one installs curtains, or places new furniture and realizes that the image in the mind is not the same in reality, going for external change when one must begin internally. But it is more a challenge of organizing and storage, to store things in their proper place, a way for the mind to categorize stuff the way Aristotle had done in the early stages of scientific thought; to categorize a thing is a form of knowledge, to bring order to chaos by mental constructs, by putting things in their proper container before moving on. Without this construct, one is lost in an ambiguous world, resulting in confusion; though one enjoys uncertainty, though not in the sensations of woolly thinking but appreciating that life is unorganized (‘stuff happens’).

Last weekend we spent most of the day assembling our purchases, putting up curtains, placing the new furniture in their place. At the same time watching movies that one had borrowed from the library, trying to get one’s quota of reading and watching done, the house a mess while one builds a new way of living. There is still a lot to do, enough to fill the coming weekends with work, not including the garage which also needs organization, feeling like a conqueror by trying to bring calm from disarray, setting up cabinets, ledges and other storage systems so the untidy mess of the garage is tamed. But that is a future story, another weekend to plan as one goes through the last weekend shopping, still more to come as there are other windows to take care of. Sadly one did not do any writing, or make calls to soothe family concerns, or try to build bridges destroyed by unthinking siblings; running away from these troubles that need a responsible touch, or tackling the challenge that one had always dreamed off, putting important chores far way into the future and hopping that things will take care of themselves. I guess one needs to take care of his living room first, so one's surroundings are orderly; conducive to serious thinking in the future.

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