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A lovely memory

On emotional furniture and biographical spaces

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One's own home like out of a catalogue? This is not the ideal for many and is much too impersonal. Memories of the last holiday, the heirlooms of the grandparents or the self-made standing lamp in the living room: mementoes and furniture we have grown fond of play a central role in the trend of biographical spaces. The combination of old furnishings and new staging opens up a business area that should not be neglected. Find out why we tend to hold onto mementoes and how biographical spaces might look.

: Left: old sewing machine as a deco element; right: the family dining table, which has had a place in the dining room for generations

The family dining table at which generations have already gathered, or the old, inherited sewing machine: staged appropriately, mementoes can decorate one's own four walls. (Photo: left: H. Wong, right: Lina Castaneda, both Unsplash)

Biographical spaces: what is that?

The latest trends and stylistic directions come one after the other in our fast-moving world. What everybody was just talking about today might not apply and be long out of date by tomorrow. Advertising often claims that new is better. In this mindset, the relationship with beloved heirlooms or furniture with emotional value is often lost. A trend in the interiors industry that strives to counter this involves biographical spaces. While the focus of other styles is on a few modern designer pieces, biographical spaces aim to provide many insights into a personal history. An heirloom from the great-grandmother, a shelf one has built oneself or the sensational find at the favourite flea market: in this trend, old and new furniture are combined and the home becomes a dynamic museum of one's own life.

Psychology meets interiors

The psychologist Tilmann Habermas has occupied himself with precisely this theme. In his book "Geliebte Objekte: Symbole und Instrumente der Identitätsbildung", Habermas describes personal objects in three symbolic functions. For one thing, personal objects with high emotional value serve as a signalisation of one's own identity. We express ourselves and attempt to show our own personality with them. These objects can also just as easily serve a private occupation with one's own person and past. They point out to us who we once were, who we are now, and make our own development process apparent to us. Habermas ascribes a third function of remembering to our personal objects. We remind ourselves of beloved people, extraordinary moments or just lovely times through objects charged with emotion.

Habermas' theories and conclusions are far more comprehensive than we could describe here. The quintessence is, however, that emotional objects are important to us and for our involvement with our own person and remind us of pleasant experiences from the past. It is therefore not surprising that an ever increasing number of people are picking up this trend intuitively and filling their own living spaces with life with the help of emotional furniture and decorative items.

Picture wall with many frames filled with memories.

Self-painted paintings, postcards as holiday memories or the favourite place in a book: properly showcased, mementoes can decorate any home (Photo: Jonny Caspari, Unsplash).

The various forms of biographical furnishings

But how does that work in practice? What creative ways are there to integrate a little more personality and memory into one's own four walls?

Historical background

Furniture from previous generations was made to last. The solid wood living room cabinet of the great-grandmother not seldom survives the years and now decorates the living spaces of the following generation. Heirlooms are an ideal element for filling one's own four walls with memories. There is a story behind every chip, every stain, every squeak of the doors. One knows some of them, while some are first inspired by the power of imagination. However, these do not always have to have many decades behind them. The lovely photos from the last holiday don't have to languish on memory cards and hard drives. Don't the photos look much better on a big, well thought out picture wall that evokes positive memories and a smile every time one passes by? This offers companies and manufacturers possibilities to more intensely focus re-use approaches or to develop products that can showcase beloved heirlooms.

DIY instead of 08/15

Instead of the affordable standard shelf, simply become creative oneself, upscale the uniform furniture with a little bit of craftsmanship and lend it a personal note. What used to hardly be noticed at all becomes a central stylistic device in one's personal interior design with a little bit of DIY , inviting astonishment. The new shelf, the self-made lamp or the DIY kitchen table will remind of the creative process for a long time. Many furniture dealers offer DIY kits or instructions for recreation. And what could make one more proud than to be able to answer the question of "Where did you buy that?" with "I built it myself".

Companies and furniture manufacturers can make use of this by, for example, upgrading their own product portfolio with simple and skilful DIY sets for existing furniture.

Time for more personality

Biographical spaces not only make one's own home cosier. They also simultaneously decorate it with emotional items of furniture and decoration we have grown fond of. Key here is to place and stage them accordingly. For those interested in design, the trend of biographical spaces offers new possibilities. The result is a business area for the interiors industry that should also be considered. To also present your trends and not miss any others: apply with your trade fair stand for the imm cologne Spring Edition 2023 .