Back in August 2020, novelist Zadie Smith sat with Adam Buxton for an interview that would later appear on Adam's podcast. The conversation naturally revolved around the many ways in which the pandemic affected the author's life, but it was their discussion of the oh-so-trendy topics of gardening and home-renovating affairs that caught my attention. Zadie admitted that it was her husband that had 'an eye for these things', simply saying, "I am on board, but not that active in the choice making. I don't have any aesthetic opinions about houses or gardens. Clothes are my only interest in the physical realms of objects".
There are those certain remarks one reads or hears, that resonate with a precise emotion that just so happens possesses you. Listening to Zadie describe her sole interest in fashion stirred the exact opposite emotion. By no means was it a reflection of my liking to Zadie's work or of my own admiration of fashion. Rather it revealed how fashion slowly lost its hold over its long-held title: being the most significant place to look for individual, creative statements.
The need to express personal taste through aesthetical choices and unique curation has been almost entirely shifted. The new passion du jour? Homeware and interiors, of course.
As this idea was chewed on relentlessly over the past year, let me be brief about it: We've all had to adjust to spending most of our time at home while broadcasting our lives to colleagues, family, and friends over endless Zoom calls and Google hangouts. The need to live in a pleasant, welcoming space couldn't be more understandable. Tuning into this need was global: most of us, regardless of our occupation, had a living room that could use a touch-up. It wasn't only understandable, it felt necessary. Lockdown renovations; new WFH stations; styling your video calls; an all-time peak of online orders from Ikea. Redesigning our homes was an official pandemic trend.
As it was deemed 'important,' the business of interiors presented itself with an opportunity. For the creative community, it provided a gateway for something way beyond a task to perform. I'm talking about inspiration.
I used to love magazines, particularly graphic design magazines. I mean, all magazines are essentially about graphic design, as they are all 'graphically-designed.' But I just loved the ones dedicated to the subject, exploring types, grids, imagery use, interviews with graphic designers - famous or not - telling the story of their passion and career.
Somewhere in recent years, this fascination faded. Maybe it was the internet? Instagram? Pinterest? Who knows. The fact of the matter was I didn't spend a penny on new print publications about design. I abandoned the thrill of a newly acquired title and with it the obligatory sniff of pages fresh-out-of the print-house and the search for special foils or Pantone usage within its pages. It just wasn't part of how and where I found inspiration anymore.
A few weeks ago, something changed. While scrolling through Apartamento's feed, I suddenly felt a sudden urge to actually read the magazine. Not it's digital version - with square images and concise captions - but to hold a printed issue in my hands. Since I haven't felt this in so long, I didn't think twice, and a few clicks and 25 Euros later, the copy was on its way over to me.
The day it arrived, I was taken aback with sweet nostalgia. Oh, to smell that paper again! To gently flip through the pages in anticipation of what will be revealed next to the eye.
What was this feeling? This long-lost emotion? I almost forgot what it's called: Inspiration.
The rarity of the event made me take stock. Trying to understand how this happened, I could only pinpoint it to a single explanation: the reason this feeling was accessible to me again wasn't that I rediscovered the joy of a printed magazine. It was this specific magazine, Apartamento, which is about everyday interiors.
Yes, it was the subject matter itself that allowed me to be immersed in design again. People's homes, studios, flats, bedrooms, and kitchens: that's all my eyes wanted and yearned for. I could suddenly remember what it's like to appreciate how a title is placed next to an image, to feel moved by the course a spread follows another. Inspiration!
The obsession with interiors continued to manifest itself in various ways. Next up was the ever-alluring genre of home video tours. I've been a long-time fan of the celebrity kind, such as the ones Architectural Digest does on their YouTube channel. But more recently, I've discovered that Modern House - a UK based estate agency with the most beautiful listings you've ever seen - creates their own original video content. Upon finding it, I knew I was bound to lose hours of my life to YouTube, but I happily gave in.
Even though it was a very different experience to the one I had while flipping through the pages of Apartamento, it still evoked that same sense of being creatively moved. By watching real people chatter about their real homes (I'm using the term 'real' loosely here: these are all fancy architects and artists, i.e., massively privileged rich people), I was able to feel inspired again by life, design, and the way they are interwoven.
These new-found inspiration territories resulted in two positive outcomes: the first is that my house looks so much better now, as it's going through endless refining in all its spaces. And the second, more profound, I might add, is recognizing the seed of inspiration in unexpected places.
Is it ironic that for me to relocate the sense of creative self, all I had to do was literally look inside my own home? Maybe. But let it serve as a great reminder to precisely that: the state of creativity is never really missing; you may just need a different map to find the way back in.