Have you ever been to Japan?
But I remember learning about Japanese vernacular design in architecture school (aka, the Japanese home).
Cleanliness, simplicity, and harmony are words perfectly describe interior spaces in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Balance is also a fitting word, but not in the same way we tend to think of it in the West, where the Hellenistic holdover of symmetry reigns supreme — at least until the advent of modernism, of which I’m not a huge fan.
Balance in Japanese style is all about a balance of elements, and not necessarily spatial balance.
For instance, the angular and artificial geometries of sliding screens, tatami mats, and square rooms — their squareness emphasized by a lack of furnishings and/or wall adornments — might be balanced out by the natural curvature of an unfinished wood beam.
It’s a harmony of elements achieved through simplicity.
Simplicity at home is something that alludes us Westerners, especially today. In most cases, sensibilities of design and preferences for consistency have totally gone out the window.
We find a neoclassical chair paired with an oriental table, and the two of them sitting in front of a modernist painting. The poised sense of balance I described between the nature and artifice of Japanese architecture is missing, because these disparate pairings are usually not a conscious choice — they’re just what the furniture store had.
If my description of the modern home interior comes off as harsh, check out Home: a Short History of an Idea for written proof in the form of a much more qualified dude talking about these points of design.
But I digress.
The point I want to get to in this article is that we tend to have a lot of disparate junk in our homes, and much of it accumulated over time without a plan.
In our case, we have tons of clothes, toys, magazines, books, and other odds and ends we no longer use, but just haven’t gotten the courage to get rid of for one reason or another (or rather, my wife wouldn’t mind seeing them go, but she might be married to a sentimental hoarder).
Sometimes we get the junk out of sight and out of mind by tossing it into a pay-by-the-month storage facility. There it sits, unused, it’s continuing connection to us adding psycho-spiritual