Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Tao of Stuff

This week, I have been immersed in the Millenium Trilogy - and adjusting to books where the characters sound like IKEA designers, and the location names remind me of IKEA products. I was stunned and slightly disturbed to find that in The Girl Who Played With Fire - book 2 - when Salander went to IKEA and furnished and fitted out her apartment, I knew most of the items by name. Yikes. IKEA is, of course, one of my favourite places, next to, on the pedestal, DJ's and Myer ( my spiritual home).

Yes, it's true. I am shallow. But I understand retailing as a philosophy, a concept, a calling. I understand, on a molecular level, shopping. Acquisition. Browsing. On all levels, not only the high end, but also the other end - garage saling, second hand, vintage, op shops. Ebay. Amazon. I understand it. I get it. I understand markup and profit margins and merchandising and below the line costs.

It makes me sad when op shops try to be upmarket retail ( yes, Red Cross, I mean you). Seriously, if I want to buy tacky imported and tasteless trash, there are places where it is better done and cheaper. And don't even get me started on bad, loud country and western music being played in the background. There is a wealth of information available on selling, and none of it contains the suggestion that listening to dysfunctional dirges of suicidal urges, broken relationships and misery adds anything to the shopping experience (other than the minuscule amount of calories lost in fleeing the shop.) Mary Portas, where are you when we need you?

Stuff, however accumulated, can be important. It can define a space, make a house NOT a display home but a real home. Somewhere real, that people can live and enjoy. It can come and go, have a defined use, or simply make you smile when you look at it. Maybe it reminds you of something warm or nice, or someone special.

It's not about the most fashionable or the most minimal, antique or expensive. It's about being comfortable and making a home to live in. It's certainly not about cleaning or worrying that someone might not think that you have.

There is a great big secret that no-one ever talks about. It's that the business of living makes a mess. A lot of the time, real people don't live in an immaculate, shiny clockwork house.

Relax, enjoy yourself. Enjoy your creation - your home.

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