“Are ordinary yet functional objects boring? Not in my opinion. In fact, I think they deserve to be praised for being so ordinary,” writes Design Stories columnist Hanna-Katariina Mononen.
MOST PEOPLE ARE probably familiar with the term “capsule wardrobe”. I believe it means a carefully selected collection of timeless pieces of clothing; classics and safe choices. By combining them freely, you can easily create an outfit for any situation in life. In most cases, a capsule wardrobe thus contains at least white dress shirts and T-shirts, high-quality knitwear, classic sneakers, a trench coat and basic jeans.
Could the same philosophy be applied to home decor? I think so. Familiarity brings comfort, and proven solutions make you feel less insecure in life. They provide a stable foundation particularly when there is instability in your life and the world.
The book Super Normal by designers Naoto Fukasawa and Jasper Morrison is based on an exhibition by the same name that was held at the Milan Triennial in 2007 and before that, at Axis Gallery in Tokyo and twentytwentyone in London in 2006. The book is a catalogue-like compilation of ordinary, almost inconspicuous, yet functional items selected by Fukasawa and Morrison. They could also be called classics, and very ordinary ones at that. The compilation is an ode to normal, and I believe in the idea like in an ideology. Ordinary, good and functional objects are the ones that give us comfort. Are they boring? Not in my opinion. In fact, I think they deserve to be praised for being so ordinary.
“Ordinary, good and functional objects are the ones that give us comfort.”
I’ve had Kartio tumblers designed by Kaj Franck since I first moved on my own. Artemide’s Tolomeo lamps deserve their position as modern classics. I can’t even come up with a room where there would be no use for the Pinza clip-on lamp. Old fabrics by Vuokko Nurmesniemi and textiles by Johanna Gullichsen, which are also suitable for upholstery, add the finishing touch to every lounging nook in my home. Artek’s 60 and E60 stools, on the other hand, function perfectly as nightstands as well as guest stools, serving whatever purpose they are needed for. I always miss the classic scissors by Fiskars in situations where there aren’t any available. Crisp linen towels and high-quality cotton sheets make everyday life feel softer without ever stealing the show.
So, whenever I’m not sure what to choose, I choose the most ordinary option. And, to be quite honest, I usually do so even when I’m not hesitant. Everything is, of course, relative, and – depending on culture and preference – people may have greatly varying opinions on these items that form a strong foundation in any home. Finding the pieces that make your home comforting feels like arriving at the destination after a long journey. There’s room and energy for other things when the trusted objects in your home function well and give you comfort.
The author, Hanna-Katariina Mononen, reflects on the issues of a beautiful and sustainable life in her monthly column for Design Stories. She thinks that just like in life, in the home, the most beautiful parts are unplanned – and often relatively ordinary as well.
Text and image: Hanna-Katariina Mononen