Every so often, a book comes along that perfectly defines a mood, that taps into a certain way of thinking. The Marie Kondo phenomenon is the latest example of this, says WGSN Lifestyle & Interiors editor Sarah Housley
Decluttering consultant Marie Kondo published her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, in Japan back in 2010. In 2014, it was translated into English. Very quickly, this unassuming and low-key book on tidying – of all things – became a New York Times bestseller. It has sold 3 million copies worldwide. This year, Kondo is back with another book, Spark Joy. So just how has a book on decluttering become a smash hit?
Every so often, a book comes along that perfectly defines a mood, that taps into a certain way of thinking. This happened a few years ago with Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-volume, painfully honest autobiography, My Struggle. It was so different, so real, it was compelling. And it was long – a really long book series, at a time when popular opinion held that attention spans were getting shorter and that books might even be on their way out.
The Marie Kondo phenomenon is similar. It came along just as mindfulness started to become mainstream, with its practices of being present, being thankful and creating space for reflection and appreciation. Kondo’s technique, the KonMari method, advocates really considering each of our possessions – holding each one, one by one, in our hands to find out whether it sparks joy in us. Objects that don’t spark joy can, and should, be discarded – not only making our homes lighter, but making us lighter. The possessions that we keep, meanwhile, should be treated with respect, cherished – folded lovingly and stored carefully (I am planning to Kondo my sock drawer asap).
This ethos chimes perfectly with how we’re starting to live: spaces are becoming smaller and experiences are increasingly more important than possessions. Objects are not status symbols in the way that they used to be; luxury is not what you own but how you live. Live with less, Kondo tells us, and make sure that what you have really speaks to you, makes you happy, nourishes your spirit. The promise of better, happier lives just through tidying – this is a huge lifestyle shift, in alluringly simple packaging. And whether you like it or not, it speaks volumes to where we are right now.
WANT MORE? WGSN subscribers can explore how themes of simplification and purification will impact on design in S/S 17 trend Pause, and read how consumption is being replaced by consideration in A/W 17/18 trend Design Matters.