Consideration and Minimalism in The Age of “Stuff”

In the world of design and architecture minimalism has a long history. However, to achieve minimalism or simplicity in design is often said to be one of the hardest qualities to ascertain. The same could be said for the philosophy of minimalist living. With so much “stuff” on offer, how do you select just one thing for your home? Furthermore, after years of accumulating nice things, how do you start to reduce what you have? In a time where the exponential growth in computer technology is giving us more and more gadgets and products, and the release speed of these products is becoming extreme there is a surplus amount of choice on the market. However, despite the market being saturated in choice, a new trend every week and clever marketing, a quiet shift towards the minimalist way of life is taking place in Australia and around the world.

There are books on the practice of minimalism, most famously “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” by Japanese minimalist advocate Marie Kondo, American podcasts like, “The Minimalists” and apps to help put these methods of living into daily practice. These tools, it turns out, can be very handy when deciding what to fill your home with. Many of us want furniture that will last the test of time, and by this we mean – quality, design style and functionality. A well designed, high quality piece of furniture that will be loved forever is an investment from the designer and consumer in both time and cost. Each piece has been considered by the designer and this set of skills should be regarded as a treasured attribute of society that will form part of history in generations to come. Furthermore, a considered piece of furniture, for example, purchased by a consumer is more likely to be chosen for a specific purpose, well researched and has the potential to be handed down through generations.

Conveying the time and skill that has been put into considered design can be a challenging task, however, when this is communicated well many consumers are happy to invest. Sydney based furniture designer Tom Fereday sees this as an opportunity to help educate the public in considered design; “I document my process of each project to convey the work and development that goes into each piece. I find this not only reinforces the design but also helps portrays the work and development involved in making furniture.” Tom’s process allows his prospective clients to make informed decisions when contemplating a purchase. Tom adds, he has never tried to target a specific audience when it comes to his marketing strategies, rather his focus is on products he feels proud of and that “…convey a point of innovation and longevity in design.

This aspiration to achieve longevity in design is pushed further when Tom collaborates with clients; “I see collaboration as a means to develop a product that by myself I might never have been able to produce.” Tom says; “…the best collaborations are when each party contributes towards a greater outcome.” During this process, Tom seeks to learn as much about each client he works with as possible. Additionally, collaboration allows each client, to develop and carefully consider many aspects of the design; the space the piece will sit in, how it will function, the size, the material or materials, sustainability, and the budget to name a few. These aspects of design all have real implications on how we live and how we use our homes.

When design is considered, and we mean really considered, it can elevate everyday life and make it easier to make informed purchase decisions. Global companies like Nike understand this, by 2020, they are aiming to have a zero-carbon footprint. There are many famous quotes from architects, designers, and fashion icons about considered design and in turn considered consumer behaviour. Vivienne Westwood has famously quoted “buy less, choose well.”, the famous minimalist architect Mies van der Rohe said “Less is more.”, the March issue of Australian Vogue is focused on sustainability in the fashion industry – sustainability in relation to production, materials, and technology. The act of purchasing considered design comes from education and asking questions. Quality comes at a cost, as it should, understanding this cost, is another thing entirely.

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For Design  - Designer - Tom Fereday