“Beauty without vanity
Strength without insolence
Courage without ferocity”
– John Hobhouse (1786-1869)
Once upon a time, I was in France in the company of esteemed art professors. They asked me what I did for work, and at the time I was an interior designer. They responded without words yet still communicated their disapproval. Yawn….yeah, so let’s talk about da Vinci and that REAL art that is happening down at the Louvre. I felt a little embarrassed, as if I couldn’t hang with the big kids. I almost wanted to apologize for spending my days space-planning and sourcing finishes. I had always felt that decorating was a borderline bad word. This is why we interior people were always clinging to the architects, and classifying ourselves as designers. Some are more comfortable calling themselves “interior architects”.
Paper, Pencil, Ink, Tape
I loved using all the tools for designing interiors!
I have since changed my tune. What’s to apologize for? Anyone who wears clothes that fit them properly is guilty of decoration. Decoration is beautifying, and beauty is not something that only belongs to major works of art. It’s everywhere, and hopefully your days are filled with it, and you experience it often. Perhaps it happens when you wake up and take the day’s first steps on the warm wooden floor, or that plush carpet. All lovingly chosen and created to interact with you daily. This is a moment that will happen whether the floor is ugly or beautiful. It may not be important to everybody, but nobody would complain if provided with beautiful flooring. (At least I wouldn’t.)
Does this floor make my cookie more beautiful?
Because I used to think that it could be taken as shallow or superficial, I never said it proudly…but I will proudly say it now:
Beauty is my guiding philosophy in life.
Everything comes down to it, because beauty isn’t merely style. It is truth. The truth is in how we experience life. Does design have to be beautiful? I say: YES!
All great design can be distilled down to whether or not it is a good experience. Is that door handle at the right height? Does the pot have the right lip so the sauce pours nicely? It doesn’t have to be purely utilitarian. Maybe the smell of clean laundry and the feel of soft cotton on your skin makes you smile. The flaky warm apple pie crust is holding up nicely against the cool creamy ice-cream. How we interface with life is through design. All those little beautiful interactions add up to a beautiful day.
The best experiences were designed well. Not just the grand wedding or celebration. Everything we make in life – from how we interact with each other, to the objects and services we use, to the dinner we will eat tonight – makes us happier if it is made beautifully. We appreciate it all more. Who in the world actually opts for mediocre meals and surly conversation? That sort of person clearly doesn’t think life is worthwhile. That sort of person would probably wipe the smile off of Mona Lisa’s face.
Sir, don’t point your mediocrity at me. I’ll show you what beauty is…
As you design your life, develop a strong relationship with all the tools you’ll need to #MakeItBeautiful. Paints, Words, Chisels, Software, Patience, Fresh Produce, Tea Leaves…anything can be in your toolbox! Crafting beautiful things is really just the same as crafting a beautiful life. Whatever you are putting out into the world, be it an object, an experience, a service, or even a person (parenting is hard work!) if the intent behind it includes beauty, then it means you are trying to put a little good out into the world. A little something that reflects your optimism and truth, and makes the world more beautiful and better for everyone. ❤🌼🌸
Currently in my toolbox: