I’ve asked before on this blog why design is important. For many people, particularly poor people, design is seen as a luxury. But what if I told you I disagree. I don’t think it should be a luxury.
In India I saw a lot of design that wasn’t a luxury, instead, it was well thought out. It was practical, durable, sustainable (surprised?) and didn’t exist because someone in some fancy design firm somewhere decided it was the fashion of the day. Kitchens, for instance, had two rooms. One for cooking and one for cleaning.
We take design for granted here. It is oriented toward consumerism, not consumer oriented. What is the difference, you ask? Well, something oriented toward consumerism is going to have the Joycean- pornography quality that makes you want the newest model. Something that is consumer oriented is going to be designed with the users best interest in mind, and that includes being durable, sustainable, practical and all those other idealistic virtues I just professed.
We tend to think of the things we put in our homes as an expression of our individuality, but in other places your home is an expression of your history, your social status or your culture first. I also saw in India, that design spoke volumes about a people not just a person.
Last night as BB and I sat on her counter top in her kitchen with our wine, I contemplated my own kitchen. It has…well, let’s call it character. It came almost as is from 1948, same counter tops, same flooring, it was the original color and had the original appliances when I bought it. The thing about the modern kitchen though, it that it is designed around a concept of refrigeration and (more specifically) a modern refrigerator. In more traditional kitchens, that does not exist. American kitchens, more over, are designed around the packaged foods/costco life style. Bigger is better.
So, what does this have to do with poor people, you ask? It’s pretty simple, more traditional kitchens are designed for a more sustainable and practical lifestyle. Practical and sustainable are cheaper over the long term. The refrigerator that was in my house when I bought it lasted fifty years! The one I could find to replace it with which would fit in the little nook specifically designed for the refrigerator lasted me five.
I have been contemplating a remodel on my kitchen for about a year now. Trying to decided if I want to give in to this fad -temporary life. Especially in my kitchen. If my kitchen is the heart of my home, what does that (being so American) say about me? More importantly, if I give in to this quick and easy lifestyle we cultivate here who will be left? You don’t have to be a radical minimalist to make choices that will last you for a long time. The only trick is that those choices can be tough and they can take time to make. If we give up true beauty and ascetic for the newest trend or for the cheapest-quickest solutions what kind of life are we living? An impoverished one, I think.
I wanted to share with you some more of my design choices and thoughts for my kitchen. The goal is not to have the biggest, newest, best kitchen ever. The goal is to have a kitchen where people feel comfortable and want to gather and cook. Where we can sit on the counter tops with our glasses of wine and talk.
I”ll be contemplating my kitchen design for a while longer before I actually decide to do anything. Because, like my relationships, I like things that last.