Quiet as it’s kept, I have long been fascinated by design in general, and interior design in particular. I can spend hours upon hours, days even, on the sofa in my living room, just watching design television. Maybe this is so because, at heart, I am really a barefoot girl picking wildflowers by the side of the road. I find shacks, for example, inordinately beautiful. And I have a design aesthetic informed by a Caribbean childhood in which people took what was at hand to create functional and beautiful objects.
But even as much as I love design TV, and loved and read assiduously Home and Garden when it was still in publication, and I love Architectural Digest, Martha Stewart and all the rest of it, it slowly began to dawn on me that outside of a little splash of lemon-yellow here, or a dash of turquoise blue there, all these interiors looked remarkably similar. There seemed to be no appreciation that people all around the world had a way of arranging their homes, their living spaces, in a way that was not only functional, but also beautiful.
But I knew this was not so.
I started thinking back to the homes and places I loved to visit, the various interiors, the magnificent iron grille work, the multi-colored rugs made from strips of cloth in Morocco, and realized that what I loved about those houses and interiors was not their similarities, but their differences. I remembered a photograph that I had bought, years before, from a photographer, Robin Farquharson, whom I have always admired. This photograph, “Edith White In Her Bedroom,” was of an older Jamaican woman in her one-room shack. But what a gorgeous shack it was! What a wonderful sense of design! I so fell in love with this photograph, when I had it in hand, that I sent back to the photographer to ask if he had any more photographs of this woman and her amazing house, and got an equally impressive photograph of how she arranged the landscape around her home, as well. There was such a sense of simplicity, beauty and authenticity to it all. In short, this woman was a wonderful designer.
I started thinking back to the homes of friends, family and acquaintances and realized what I loved about their homes was the sense of them — their personality — being on display, and that was exactly what was missing, I now realized, in all the magazines and TV programs that I still enjoy watching.
They lacked a sense of meaningful design.
Meaningful design, you say. Just what is that?
At its most basic, meaningful design takes as its starting point that, whether consciously or unconsciously, we all have a design aesthetic and we choose to keep around us things that are reflective of us and our design aesthetic. Our homes are an outward reflection of who we are, and they are as individual to each of us as our unique personalities. Ergo our homes must be as funky, eclectic, minimalist and eccentric as we all are.
Our homes reflect our various travels — real and imagined — by the things we take up and carry along with us, and the things we choose to discard along the way. Our homes carry our memories. They also, our homes, mark the changing moments of our lives — the things, in fact, that are most meaningful to us. The family pictures that decorate our walls. The crafts that we happened upon late at night in some godforsaken place and simply had to have. The drawings and paintings nieces and nephews sent to us that are hanging on our refrigerator doors. The pitchy-patchiness of it all.
So that is what this blog is all about. It goes in search of homes that look like homes. Places that people actually live in. It goes in search of those designers and artisans who help us to actually make our homes more like places we live in and not just clean, elegant but wholly unlived-in spaces. It takes as its starting point that in a globalized world we all want to know more about home goods from different parts of the world, as well as about the designers and artisans who make these products in a sustainable way.
Meaningful Designs will profile the designers and artisans that make the products that we all would like to have in our homes. Authentic, often handmade products, that is meaningful to us in some way.
Placing emphasis on sustainability, recycling of materials, and creativity as a means of economic development and empowerment, Meaningful Designs will introduce you, our readers, to the artisans from around the world who make the products we all fall in love with, we will keep you abreast of the latest trends in the home goods industry, and we will offer tips and advice on making your home more like YOU want it to be.
What are the stories behind the pieces that we bring into our homes? Who are the people who still make these decorative objects and why? Is there a different design aesthetic in different parts of the world? How do as many people from as many parts of the world make sense of and arrange their home in a way, yes, that is meaningful to them? Questions upon questions and so many answers that are reflected in the places we choose to call home.
Let the adventure begin!