This might sound weird, but I believe that when we look back on 2020, at some point many of us will see what a gift that year was.
It wouldn’t hurt to start looking for the gifts now.
In life, we attract what we look for. What we pay attention to, is what we get more of; i.e.: where attention goes, energy flows. And that’s not to say we should bypass the very real, very scary, and very threatening situations so many are dealing with. I’m not suggesting that we turn a blind eye. It’s a both/and.
We can look at this past year and we can feel the weight of it. A lot of us have deeply felt the grief and fear that so much threat and uncertainty have brought not just because of Covid, but also the impact we feel as a country and in our communities because of the political environment. The recent upheaval by extremists in our capitol. And the heartbreak over the social inequities of our country, with ongoing racism, and double standards that people of color continue to face. These are awful and difficult things to contend with.
So how do we also make space for the good when so much is going sideways? We can turn our attention toward what we do have control over and that is: Noticing what is good.
This is the perspective I am choosing to look for when I reflect upon how 2020 impacted the world of interior design and construction.
We can notice what has happened to us as we have slowed down, how things that seemed stressful, and inconvenient, like the supply chain breaking on various levels, forced us to get creative: to upcycle, recycle, and go local. To pivot! And into a forced slowdown because the supply chain isn’t gushing at full force as we have come to expect. I am looking at this as a blessing of sorts.
If you know me, you know I’ve been emphasizing thoughtful consumption all along: choosing local, choosing high quality, breaking our dependency on cheaply made products from far away. (I mean YOU Amazon!) At the beginning of this world-wide slowing down, we all saw how for the first time in a long time, there was clean air because the factories that pump out these quickly available, easily acquired, cheap products were forced to shut down.
So now, after almost 12 months of slowing down, this is a good time to consider how this past year has changed our consuming habits. What if these changes are for the better? In the high-end design world, this trend towards artisanal, quality, and local was bypassed on a grand scale for decades by the quick-fix model so many industries had adopted. But like the lessons Alice Waters, food activist and one of my heroines, has been teaching for years in the Slow Food movement, slow consumption has taken a stronger foothold this past year.
And not just with food. Now, it’s happening in my industry too. I could not be more delighted. It is a political, ecological, economic, and community-supporting act, to focus our buying habits in this way.
In recent decades, the Internet changed how we feel about instant gratification. Wanting things fast, wanting them now, next day free shipping, at the press of a button. Thus I found myself having to — it is my responsibility to — educate clients, set boundaries, and let them know it’s up to us to change the world. Every drop in the bucket counts. Our consuming habits can be a force for change.
In the end, cheap is expensive. At what cost was that bargain — what cost to our planet?
Speaking of creative solutions and taking action to take care of our communities and the planet, this year, LMB Interiors has donated a percentage of our profits to an organization that is tapping the resources in the high-end design world to help create beautiful, restorative, supportive environments in the homes of foster families and previously un-homed adults. Our colleague and dear friend, Carolyn Rebuffel recently founded Make It Home (makeithomebayarea.org) a nonprofit that supports individuals who are transitioning out of crises by furnishing their new homes with new or gently-used items and accessories donated by interior designers and our clients.
The images accompanying this post are of furnishings and “implements” by my dear colleague, interior designer as well as furniture designer and purveyor Lane McNab (Guild by LMI). She says, “I believe the best way to take care of the planet is to say goodbye to disposable culture. Invest in quality that speaks to you and will last for generations. The most sustainable design is the design you love and will keep forever. Best of all, this is the recipe for a beautiful, fulfilling, and lasting home design as well.”
At LMB Interiors, we celebrate Carolyn and Lane and everyone who has found ways, in the midst of crisis, to create and act on opportunities for healing and growth, from the personal level to the societal, and to the global.
A version of this article appeared in the Piedmont Post
Photos courtesy of Lane McNab