16.–21.01.2023 #immcologne

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Less is more

Tidiness: decluttering has become a trend

“Tidy house, tidy mind” – probably most of us will have heard something along those lines. What with work, free-time stress and hectic daily lives, we often find it difficult to live up to this maxim. Isolation and the long stretches of time spent at home are currently driving a tidying boom. Decluttering has become a trend.

Large, open wardrobe

Storing, tidying, organising: The new decluttering trend creates order in the home. (Photo: Anastasia Shuareva on Pexels)

The pandemic as a catalyst for tidiness

Clearing out and tidying up emerged as a real trend back in early 2019. There’s a simple reason for it: the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. After watching the 34-year-old Japanese organising expert declutter strangers’ homes, everyone fell into a tidying fever. Marie Kondo seems to have hit a nerve with her KonMari Method and awakened a previously unknown love of tidiness in many people’s hearts. Initially inspired by Marie Kondo, the desire to declutter has grown even greater since the pandemic.

Coronavirus hasn’t just changed the world – it has changed our habits, too. Values are shifting, and the mundane and everyday is becoming increasingly important – and that includes our own homes. Rarely in the past have we spent so much time at home. We have reflected more on how we actually want to live. What needs does a home really have to fulfil in order for it to be a place of well-being? Futurist Oona Horx-Strathern has been observing the trend for home decluttering for some time and has given it a name: tidyism. It’s a trend born of a society of plenty and influenced by factors such as the shortage of living space, environmental awareness and a concern for mental health. But it goes beyond having a more orderly home – it’s about achieving inner order as well. Our relationship to our homes is being redefined. How do our homes make us feel? What can I do to feel more at ease? How can I make my home healthier ?

The shortage of living space calls for new organisation systems

These questions also arise from the changes in our living space. Much as the popularity of rural areas has increased due to the pandemic, the pull of the city remains undiminished. Spiralling rents, soaring house prices and a lack of living space are the consequences. This cocktail is changing our ideas of the home .

Tidying up is a trend primarily driven by the lack of space: We have lots of stuff, but very few places to put it. The basement, attic and garage were natural storage areas just a few years ago, but now many of us have to find a home for all our possessions inside a flat. Each person in Germany owns around 10,000 items. In the US, that figure is as high as 30,000. As our living space shrinks, we are rethinking our relationships to our possessions. What do we really need to live happily? Simply chucking everything out isn’t the answer: From a psychological perspective, our possessions help to give us a sense of security and allow us to express our personalities. What we need therefore are new organisation systems – systems that give us orderly surroundings and mental well-being.

Decluttering the home to declutter the mind

The trend for minimalism is bigger than ever before. We live in a society that is running a non-stop marathon from stressful work to constant contactability and social obligations. This level of peak performance is leading to a growing desire for calm . “Belongings increasingly feel like a burden. Young people want experiences above all, not to invest in things,” says Oona Horx-Strathern. “Added to which, our world has become more complex, which is leading to a greater need to organise our lives and our things.” The decluttering trend benefits more than just our homes.

A study by Princeton University emphasises the importance of order in the home. The researchers demonstrated that untidiness reduces the ability to concentrate. Another study from 2013 showed that people in messy environments make significantly more mistakes than those in tidy environments. Having a clear-out and getting rid of old burdens can therefore make you more efficient. But where should we put our things if storage space is limited and throwing them away isn’t an option?

Brown coffee table with storage space inside

Pragmatism and design combined: There is ample storage space for blankets and cushions inside Ethnicraft’s coffee tables, making the living room look instantly tidier. (Photo: Ethnicraft)

Storage solutions for a more organised home

The future is set to be an age of internal and external order. But tidying up is not enough on its own. People want intelligent, stylish and multifunctional organisation systems for their homes.

Some companies have already spotted this trend and are responding to it. Founded in 2020, House of Little Labels is one example. From kitchens to bathrooms and living rooms, founders Iweta Tarhan and Ira Meindl bring order to all parts of the home with their storage solutions. They have created a stylish organisation system with their elegant boxes, containers and baskets. And the best thing about it: Each item of storage gets a label – and customers can even design their own inscription if they want.

Tidiness always goes hand in hand with multifunctionality and modularity as well, because small spaces cry out for smart solutions. Ethnicraft's handcrafted pieces combine a table and storage space in one. The additional space inside the coffee table isn’t obvious at first glance, creating a tidy look. But the absolute classic among invisible storage solutions is the under-bed storage box.

In tiny spaces, every little nook and cranny has to be used to create sufficient storage space and hence order in the home. Tylko gives its customers the option to design their own shelves and chests of drawers down to the centimetre. Even unconventional designs are possible. With this concept, the Polish company is responding to the need for new organisation systems. Movisi GmbH follows a similar approach. Its sustainably produced U-CUBE creates customisable storage space and is infinitely expandable. The system allows users to build shelving, stools or benches with diverse functions.

Alongside products for creating order in the home, another market is emerging in the interiors industry: Gurus, consultants and coaches who help people to manage and organise their belongings are in greater demand than ever before. External self-storage solutions are still in their infancy by contrast. While most storage solutions today are designed to be purely functional, the future researchers at the Zukunftsinstitut predict that we may soon see service-oriented and more tasteful concepts. After all, growing demand is always a catalyst for innovative developments.

Looking ahead to the decluttered home of tomorrow

Living in a society of plenty and the shortage of space in cities are changing customers’ needs. Belongings are becoming a burden, and tidiness a way of life. An orderly home is the answer to the growing complexity of our daily lives and the huge number of impressions that we are exposed to each day. This situation calls for creative and innovative solutions. So far, only a few pioneers in the interiors industry have adapted their strategy to the decluttered home of tomorrow. It’ll be exciting to see which organisation systems will appear in our homes in the future.

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