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  • catherine stemper

Embrace Your Abundance

Updated: Nov 4

As we enter the season of harvest and abundance, I want to discuss how good design is everywhere, one just has to keep one's eyes and mind wide open. The trick is, you have to be vigilant and positive. We are all tempted to go out and buy new, to replace our tired old whatevers. I love to shop, do not get me wrong. However, I also know I have a closet/house full of my favorite things.

So, when it is time for change, when I want a new fresh look, I put on a new attitude and look at what I already have with fresh eyes. At the time I have dedicated to this process, I prepare myself for the task by knowing what I am looking for. What new trends are exciting to you? Color? Shape? Motif? Define what your goal is, why do you want something new? Is there anything among your belongings that already fits this new trend? I am not in a hurry, and I am rested and fed, ready to focus and enjoy the process of shopping my closet or house. It helps to remove everything from the room, closet, or drawer. Clutter and crap always make everything look bad. So, if removing everything is just not do-able, at least get rid of all the unwanteds (broken, unused, misplaced). Rearrange, pair a trendy color with your favorite neutral, change the proportions, go extreme, or dead even, just change.

If you must go out and find what you are missing, I recommend a budget. I am a firm believer that restriction inspires creativity. Of course one can buy a beautiful whatever if there is no budget. However, if you abide your limit, you will find your true heart, your true likes and dislikes. Shop second hand, shop discount and sale, buy quality, buy what you love and you won't have any design regrets.

How does this apply to design? Good design starts with defining the function. This can take some guess work, ideas need to be reviewed, reworked, expanded, and explored. If there is a problem to be solved, there is more than one answer. I have two fine examples of this process.

I watched a documentary on Gilda Radner, I highly recommend it. What a talent, and bright shining star with way too short a life. She would have writing sessions that would create her " vomit" draft. She would just write down everything she could think of, then start trimming, editing, re-arranging, deleting, getting rid of the crap to unearth the jewels. An example of keeping eyes and mind open, designer Sarah Richardson shops everywhere when decorating. She understands budget, and can find good design everywhere from Home Depot to JC Penny. She never purchases a whole scheme from the same outlet, because it would look too coordinated, contrived.

Keep your goal in mind, put all ideas out there at first. Sometimes the ideas flow so fast in our heads that it is hard to distinguish one from another. Thumbnail sketches are a great way to just get it all out, worth the time. I try to do at least three, as many as I can. This process can generate even more ideas too. Then you can go back an edit, change, modify easily, instead of reworking your final masterpiece.

Then step back, take a moment to get away from the thumbnails, even a few moments helps. You want fresh eyes to see the ideas with some perspective, distance, less emotion. Actually turning the sketches upside down can help with removing the emotional attachment to ideas. Turning the thumbnails also helps with seeing how things are organized or composed, brings out the flaws or bad proportions.

Embrace the abundance, it is all there. You may have to pull some weeds, clean out some cobwebs, but the design is there.



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