William Morris said that you must have nothing in your room that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. Dieter Rams reiterated a century later that ‘less is more’, and today you can hear Marie Kondo from every television screen insisting ‘does it spark joy?’
Today’s world see’s ‘too much stuff’ as a daily complaint, with our plastic memorabilia included in every fast-food takeout bag and with endless commercial holidays to cater for and receive upon. Often the culprit for not letting things go is down to sentimental value, from pointless books gathering dust from schooldays that your not-yet-concieved children may need, to a wooden box given to you by your late grandmother with a broken lid. And then there’s the ‘I might find use for this one day’ which also feeds into the sentiment of your prized piles of ‘stuff’, offered up to your future self, pressuring them to use it ‘one day’. And really, that future you doesn’t even exist yet, let alone have need for some old clothes pegs in case the dryer breaks.
What all those designers, philosophers and clutter-savvy minds say is that it’s best to let things go if you haven’t thought about them at least after one year.
But this is life in general; when you take these principles inside a workshop, which often is smaller than the smallest room in your house, or sometimes IS the smallest room in your house, these principles must be applied not only once in a while during a de-clutter, but at all times. The same goes for any workspace. Is that personalised paperweight actually useful? Is that centimetre of ‘The Tree’ off-cut still residing in the ‘stuff’ draw really ever going to be useful? It’s a tough decision no matter what your trade.
The things we prioritise in a space have to be important; otherwise, you are housing not only a cluttered space but a distracted mind. Here are some of the things we give space to in our workshop, and why.
This is just one of four books in the shop. Alan Fletcher’s ‘Art of Looking Sideways’ is a new edition, which inspires ways of looking and thinking differently. Fletcher was a British graphic designer who’s work inspired so many artists before us, and so we keep it tucked away above the workbench in case we need a challenge, an inspiration, or a lonely coffee break. Other books include Dieter Rams’s ‘As Little Design As Possible’, Taschen’s ‘1000 Chairs’ and Ervin Somogyi’s famous duo ‘The Responsive Guitar’ and ‘Making the Responsive Guitar’.
Glue-up badger is not only a stylish compadre that sparks a lot of joy, but is also a handy holder. And, he doesn’t take up much room. If you are housing a woodland creature, make sure they are spatially aware...
Craft can be an isolating thing. Although this may be something to be relished, the danger is you are naturally excluding creativity. We make room for the work of others on our walls to foster the cross-pollination of craft. Much like a writer is a prolific reader, we think it’s good to have an ephemeral collection of work by other makers and artists for inspiration.
And it’s always great to receive the odd sticker or business card to add to the bandsaw.
What’s in your workshop, workspace or home?