Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ten Life-Changing Lessons You Can Learn from Good Design

Good design is powerful. An artfully arranged tablescape can feel profoundly satisfying. A certain color or pattern can make your heart skip a beat. A beautiful room can make you feel that all is right with the world.

Why is this?

Is it because our brains are programmed to react emotionally to visual stimuli?

Or does good design makes us feel good for reasons that go even deeper?

I think beautiful images fill us with deep contentment because on some level they act as visual paradigms for how to live better. They have a message that goes beyond beauty alone. 

Below, some examples. 

Lesson #1: Life is too short not to get along with others.
(Interior design by Ilse Crawford. via.)

At first glance, this ornate copper tea kettle would seem to have nothing in common with the minimalist glass jar and rustic wooden chopping block. Separately, each represents a different aesthetic but together they achieve a harmony of elevating proportions, and each object is cooler because of what's next to it. 

Lesson #2: Be prepared.
(Samantha Boardman's bar. via)

You never know what life is going to throw at you.  All the more reason to not let it catch you unawares. Whether it's getting that first-aid kit together, keeping an extra jug of water in your car or stocking up on light bulbs, it pays to think ahead. 

Lesson #3: Focus on what you have. 
(Bea Pollen's home. via)

It's easy to complain about what you don't have. We've all done it. But nobody gets everything on their wish list. So gather your passions together and rejoice in what surrounds you. 

Lesson #4: Go deeper.

In your lifetime, there will be a few subjects you feel passionately about. Arts and Crafts architecture, say. Or Victorian women explorers. Or the poetry of John Betjeman. Dig as deep as you can into those points of interest. Curiosity is one of the most powerful motivators to keep one foot moving in front of the other.  

Lesson #5: Embrace darkness. 

Not everything in life can be sunlight and daisies--and that's a good thing. A little darkness now and then is essential for personal growth. It throws what's important into sharp relief, and can often be the quickest path to clarity. 

Lesson #6: Don't be afraid to be different.
(from the Instagram feed of Philip Gorrivan)

When you're young, the world is full of rules. But when you get older, you understand that a lot of them don't really mean anything. What's important is following your heart. Case in point: Matchy-matchy is overrated. 

Lesson #7: Pause along the way. 
(Hidcote Manor. Photo by Joe Wainwright.)

You've heard it before: It's the journey, not the destination that's important. So don't be in such a hurry to get somewhere that you forget to notice what's around you. You'll get there eventually, and if you don't, at least you'll have appreciated the rest stops.

Lesson #8: Create a safe place. 
(Interior design by Susan Jay. via.)

We all need a sanctuary far from the madding crowd. It doesn't have to be extravagant--a cozy chair in a quiet corner will do the trick. The point is to have a place you can rest and recharge when the world is too much with you.

Lesson #9: There's always another way to look at something.
(Interior design by Miles Redd. Photo by Jeffrey Hirsch.) 

Sometimes you can't see a way out. You're backed into a corner and you've run out of options. But there's always another approach. You might have to alter your own perspective slightly to find it. But it's there.  

Lesson #10: Never reveal everything. 

I'm a firm believer in the importance of preserving a little mystery in life. It creates intrigue, fans the appetite and keeps people wondering what's next. Just because we live in an age where everything is available at the click of a mouse doesn't mean we have to act that way. Show but don't tell. Or tell but don't show. See what happens.


Simple Good Beautiful said...

Lesson # 3 has been in my head for the last week. The result is that I swore off Etsy for a month!


Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Simple Good Beautiful:
Oh, do I hear you.

MrsLittleJeans said...

Oh such great reminders....thank you

Notes From ABroad said...

Lovely, just lovely.
I always like to find a little spot of my own for those quiet moments we all need in a day.

Jennifer said...

This is lovely. I've just struggled my way out of number 5 and the sun shines brighter because of it. I love your analogies.

Terra said...

I like the safe place by Susan Jay, what a great little comfy hide away, where I could dream and read.

meenal bishnoi said...

The lovers of social media need to ponder point# 10..there's such a thing as overkill & overexposurel..and both must be avoided at all cost. Love your writings, Lisa..there's always something to take home.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Jennifer at a Well Styled Life:
How wonderful to hear that. xx

I love it too. I met her recently at an event and when she told me about her book nook, I had to see it asap.
It beat every expectation I had!

meenal bishnoi:
thank you so much, meenal! xx

Pat said...

Beautifully stated--now I feel justified in ordering those design books I've been lusting after!

Linda Leyble said...

Thank you for these gentle reminders. I needed to read this today. I need to go deeper...and to create a sanctuary



Bethanne Matari said...

Well said! I plan to share with our Design Team here at Currey & Company!Thanks so much for a great blog post!

home before dark said...

Lovely, life-earned observations. I would add never underestimate the power of a good belly laugh. I think laughter is the unnoticed thread through all of your comments. The ability to laugh at yourself, laugh at the rules, laugh at the importance of being ernest, if you will. And then there is the great lesson from Alice Walker observing her mother's late autumn garden, "Take what you can use and let the rest rot."

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

home before dark:
lovely observation. i agree!

Linda Leyble:
So pleased it meant something. xx

Bethanne Matari:
Wow, I'm honored! Thank you!

www.mysoulfulhome.com said...

Like a good girl scout always be prepared ~ albeit with a fully stocked bar! Last one, yes...keep it, or at least some of it close to the vest.
Wonderful post as always...

Unknown said...

Lovely, wonderful, thank you. Funny I am sort of working on "embrace the darkness," painting my small hallway and kitchen a deep, high-gloss, taupe-y charcoal, and at the same time reading Pema Chodron's "Start Where You are."

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

That sounds fabulous in EVERY way!

Unknown said...

This is one of the loveliest posts I've read on a blog in quite some time. Beautifully gentle reminders and to combine them with interior design was all the more powerful for me. A friend once told me that after living in a not so nice apartment, she realized that she had done so because she didn't think she was worth more. It's amazing how much our surroundings reflect ourselves and how much they can impact us.



Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Anne: It IS amazing how our surroundings affect us and how they can reveal what we deem important. Thank you so much for your insightful comment. xx

Unknown said...

I LOVE this post! You've done a great job of tying together the underpinnings of design with living a fulfilled life. My favorite photos and lessons are Getting Along with Others, Embrace Darkness and Loving What you Have. (I might have mis-quoted those...). Anyway, I share your view of why great design is so central to life! Thank you!

pve design said...

I had thought that I'd left a comment yesterday only to find out it vanished.
I feel the need to do my own version of "Ten Life Changing lessons. Certainly they would involve good design and companionship.

Anonymous said...

Great life lessons, I couldn’t agree more with you. And they all seem to go well together, making life easier and more balanced. Also I enjoyed the pictures, they are gorgeous and I am amazed by all the beautiful pieces that fit so perfect together. Thank you for sharing.

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Unknown said...

simple and practical advises. good site!.

apack30 said...

Here at Purehome.com, we stumbled across your beautiful blog today, and just wanted to let you know how inspiring, and lovely it has been to read. You have a great life, and we especially like that you take pride in the small things. Thank you, and we look forward to subscribing!

Andie @ Purehome.com


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