Reconciling the materialism

So. I was at a small group networking meeting this morning and the conversation was supposed to be on power and how it affects people. Possibly due to the somber, sleeting weather talk turned to philosophical thoughts on the Human Condition, including interacting with others, seeing others' point of view and happiness versus wealth in life.

The question was posed to me, "How do you approach your day-to-day as an interior designer and not get caught up in the materialism?" My answer?

I didn't get into this profession because I want to shop for people with their money. Don't misunderstand, that part is fun, I often stop in the middle of a pile of gorgeous fabric swatches and tile options while debating over this or that infinitesimally different green paint and appreciate the fact that I get paid to play with color and texture and beautiful things. But what makes that all fun for me is you. It's my clients and seeing them light up about the little pieces we are adding to their lives that will make it easier/better/more enjoyable/enriched. It is not about getting you to buying this season's hottest/hippest/most utterly fabulous chair in the new release fabric that is all-the-rage. It's about finding that herringbone that makes your eyes close and the corners of your mouth turn up simply from touching it and being next to it.

I know life is not about the material things. It is not about the car I drive or the clothes I wear or the gifts I buy for Christmas. But it is about the road trip and the memories it etches into my brief time. It is about the perfect little black dress for the girls night out on the town that makes us all feel included and supported by one another. It is definitely about the fact that I took time out of my busy schedule to find/make/procure through any means necessary the gift for my loved ones that will show them they were important enough to plan for/splurge on/appreciate.

My ex-husband used to say that food is just a vehicle for the sauce. While our stuff is not what defines us, at times it is the vehicle for the parts of life that are worthwhile and irreplaceable. My love for my job is not about the sofa. It's about cramming together to open christmas presents, making cushion forts, lounging together to relax over a movie and a glass of wine. I am not selling you a chair, I am pulling up a conversation area that facilitates more enjoyable interactions with those you love.

Do you still think it is all about more purchasing? Some of you do - don't be afraid to raise your hand. I see your point. But don't underestimate the affect of our surroundings on our behavior. Would you want to reserve a table at Dunkin' Doughnuts for a  romantic date night out? Maybe you could just stop into your bank lobby for a happy hour with friends... I know you think it is just about the function of the places in question - but hold on. Take your Dunkin' Doughnuts and add a 5-star chef and a sommelier in a tux. Almost seems more absurd doesn't it. There are tiled floors, hard, cold surfaces and fluorescent, bright lighting. Imagine the space with nothing in it. Now dim the lights - even more. Add pendant lighting that hangs a little lower over wood tables that are heavier and look handmade. Pull up a couple of leather tufted chairs and add soft mood music - ready for a glass of wine yet? We have changed the interior and have changed how our brain reacts to the space as a whole. Our breathing slows. We want to stay longer, spend more time, trade out our jeans for a skirt and heels.

mandy bob rossImagine the same changes in your home. Don't imagine the final space as something you have seen on TV. Picture (even if you can't define the specifics) that you come home and your heart rate slows. The chaos at work falls into perspective. You feel supported, calm, happy and inspired. Wouldn't this have an impact on all your interactions throughout the day? Even when you are not at home you were able to wake up in that happy place. You know you get to go home to it later. Call me Bob Ross and let me paint your version of happy trees/sofa/kitchen/.... home.

That is why I don't see my job as being inherently materialistic or wealth-based. We all need more happy. There can be a space for each of us to enrich what we already have that is good and help soften the edges of the pieces that wear us down.



What does your home do for you currently?

What do you need to change that is not helping you feel supported by your space?

How does your job help you support something bigger than the everyday?