Wabi Style Style in 10 Steps

Hi and welcome to a new week on decor8! Let's talk about Wabi Sabi today, okay? Ever since reading, Wabi-Sabi Welcome by Julie Pointer Adams last summer, and two years before that, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo, I wondered exactly how these two lifestyle and decor trends would merge and find their "place" in modern living. Then came the Danish HYGGE as a "trend", which felt like a good way to merge eastern and western ideas and decor, and it still is.

Pella Hedeby

Pella Hedeby

Yet, there is still a push towards even more simplicity and a better edit of our homes, which is why WABI SABI seems to be gaining traction. So let's talk about, shall we? First, a defniteion is important...

In traditional Japanese aesthetics, Wabi-sabi (侘寂) is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印 sanbōin), specifically impermanence (無常 mujō), suffering (苦 ku) and emptiness or absence of self-nature (空 kū).

Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, roughness, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.
— Wikipedia
Lotta Agaton Interiors

Lotta Agaton Interiors

I often wondered, after reading Kondo's books and then, Pointer Adams' book, how would someone get rid of everything on one side (ala Kondo's overarching theme - ultimate simplicity/minimalism) with the exception of a few things, while also having a wabi sabi home which is, as Author Pointer Adams outlines in her book, "Wabi means something like simplicity, humility, and living in tune with nature; it describes someone who is content with little and makes the most of whatever he or she has, always moving toward having less. Sabi, on the other hand, refers to what happens with the passage of time; it's about transience and the beauty and authenticity of age,"?

Wabi Sabi Style Moodboard by Lotta Agaton Interiors

Wabi Sabi Style Moodboard by Lotta Agaton Interiors

How will you have a very de-cluttered home with few belongings but also have things that you've saved over time which creates this sort of authenticity of living? Hmmmm. I guess westerners are creating a bit of Wabi Sabi Our Way?

Tisca Rugs "Wabi Sabi Style" by Lotta Agaton Interiors at Domotex, Hannover, Germany

Tisca Rugs "Wabi Sabi Style" by Lotta Agaton Interiors at Domotex, Hannover, Germany

I gave a lecture last month at Formland in Denmark about trends and spoke about WABI SABI and how I see it as a definite interiors trend. I've noticed this Japanese aesthetic gaining traction here in Europe and also in the United States - have you noticed this as well? That's why I thought to talk about it today, as it's something I find worthwhile of a good old-fashioned blog post - I actually miss writing posts like these where I really explore trends. I don't find Instagram as emotionally satisfying as a good blog post now and then, to really capture what I'm thinking and to put it on digial paper.

Kristina Dam Studio

Kristina Dam Studio

Back to the books... While seemingly close in theory, The Magic of Tidying Up and the Wabi Sabi Welcome book still feel very different to me in practice yet I'm beginning to see that the happy middle point is more of how I personally aspire to live. I see Wabi Sabi as a lot more warm and less methodical, and definitely imperfect.

I like things in my home, I like some "clutter" (and I use air quotes because my clutter is 10 things on a desk, not piles of things), I like saving my skinny jeans because it does give me a good feeling to imagine getting back into them again (and I have a few times, they are always my bookmark of being in shape, or not), and I can't imagine ever throwing out some things from my son (like his wrist ID bracelet from his birth), yet I also know there is MAGIC in tidying up and having a lot less junk in the house that serves little to no purpose except to create chaos and stress.

The way Wabi Sabi is being interpreted however, is a bit different but also the same, as how the Japanese have been doing it for ages. Wabi Sabi to westerners seems to be Kinfolk, minimalism combined with clean lines and organic shapes and imperfection thrown in - but overall, definitely thought out and planned. Which isn't really so Japanese.

Lotta Agaton Interiors

Lotta Agaton Interiors

I digress... But I wonder, how do you see this Wabi Sabi Style fitting into your life? Could you adopt it? Let me explain further what it is in 10 Steps and then maybe you can answer that question better. It can be broken down this way:

1. EMBRACE AGING

I wish we could do this better with ourselves! Allowing things to age gracefully and enjoy what you have instead of always bringing in the newest and greatest. Not intentionally making something look worn or aged. Not buying something that looks aged. The age comes over time.

Kristina Dam Studio

Kristina Dam Studio

2. NATURAL MATERIALS

Living and working with raw, honest, organic materials as much as possible. Less plastic, more wood. Glass, marble, ceramics, concrete, stone, metal, etc.

Pella Hedeby

Pella Hedeby

3. NATURAL COLOR

Wabi sabi draws from the colors of nature. What you see when you go to the beach, the mountains, the dessert - these hues, this is wabi sabi color. Obviously, lots of neutrals and gray tones.

Lotta Agaton Interiors

Lotta Agaton Interiors

4. NO FUSS

You don't need to press the linen drapes or the tablecloth, no need to hem the curtains, no worries if the floor has some scuff marks or the linen sofa is wrinkled and worn in a bit. As long as things are clean and fresh looking, no fuss, casual, simple - this is wabi sabi and in a modern home, isn't this refreshing to live like this vs. having the perfectly pressed drapes and the tablecloth without a crease?

Lotta Agaton Interiors

Lotta Agaton Interiors

5. NATURE

Bringing nature in. Sticks in vases, branches in pots, leaves scattered on the dining table for an Autumn feast, acorns in a bowl collected by your son, craft projects with natural materials (think: Waldorf School style - my aunt was a educator at one in New England and I love and fully support their curriculum), pampus plumes in pottery, the key is not to overdo it and let things fall as naturally and loosely as possible - again, no fuss! No perfection!

Sania Pell For Elle Decoration, UK

Sania Pell For Elle Decoration, UK

6. LIGHT

Embracing and enhancing as much natural light as possible. I leave the lights off until it's dark outside, which saves on our electricity bill but also I feel better working near the windows and keeping my home very light and bright. In rooms where privacy is essential, I have natural linen drapes and shapes. But out of the 10+ rooms in my home, only 3 rooms have linen drapes, the rest of shades or nothing at all. I find this daily connection to the outside world really helpful - it is great for depression because you don't feel isolated and alone when you see people and homes and are forced to be part of the daily routines of others - you can't draw the thick velvet drapes and stay cocooned in - and I like this.

Pella Hedeby for RUM Hemma, Photography by Sara Medina Lind

Pella Hedeby for RUM Hemma, Photography by Sara Medina Lind

7. SCENT

Open the windows. This may not be part of wabi sabi style as much as it's something I've added here because I open the windows in all seasons, once a day at least, to keep the fresh air circulating and new smells to come in and old ones, to exit. I use healthy, organic candles and also I have Muji fragrant lights and use essential oils to make the home smell wonderful. I also use Humdakin cleaning products, even for our clothing, and my house smells and looks so nice just from a few simple, but effective products.

Lotta Agaton Interiors

Lotta Agaton Interiors

8. STRONG EDIT

This is one of my favorite things about decorating but also where I'm at in my own decorating timeline, which is, the importance of a good, strong edit. You hear this a lot in fashion but it applies as much in design for the home and styling overall. It's fine to curate and collect, but you need to have a real editor's eye and give a good edit before calling your vignette, room or even the home, "done" (at least for this week, no one ever finishes the on-going art project that is decorating). A strong edit is essential in the style of wabi sabi because humility is, to me, a fundamental characteristic of this Japanese aesthetic.

For instance, Jonathan Adler and Abigail Ahern are NOT wabi sabi in any way, shape or form. They are maximalists, they thrive on being over-the-top, overly decorated, bling, fun, personality, stuff!

But then you look at someone like Kristina Dam, a trained architect turned product designer, Lotta Agaton and also Pella Hedeby out of Sweden (whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Hannover, Germany last month), or even London-based Stylist and Art Director Sania Pell has gone into this direction in the past 6 years, and you see humility, paired back, a strong edit, and that definitely less is more.

Sania Pell for Elle Decoration, UK

Sania Pell for Elle Decoration, UK

9. CLUTTER FREE

Along with a strong edit when decorating and choosing objects for the home comes a clutter-free environment. You don't really need all of those sweaters, socks and extra shoes (that are no longer even stylish in your eyes), do you? Do you need to keep ALL of the baby clothes from when your son was little? Can you keep maybe a few outfits and donate the rest? Even digitally, do you need your computer hard drive to be packed with millions of photos that you'll never refer to, or need? Digital clutter is also clutter. Consider strongly what you need and what you don't need and be ruthless!

Sania Pell for Elle Decoration, UK

Sania Pell for Elle Decoration, UK

10. USEFUL AND PRETTY, IN BALANCE

I have been preaching this for over a decade in my books, along with most of the things on this list above though I don't have a "wabi sabi style" home, but I believe in having useful and pretty things that we're using daily. You don't need to have an ugly neon green toothbrush when you can buy a nice looking wooden toothbrush from Muji, you don't need to have your bathtub littered with products with ugly labels that make your eyes hurt - you can store them away, put the contents in clear simple bottles (again, Muji), or buy products with labels that are good-looking and are pleasing to you visually. Some people are more sensitive visually than others, just as some are more sensitive to smell and sound. I think people in the decorative arts are very visually sensitive and anything that introduces stress to them has to be dealt with, even if to others it makes us look a little crazy or OCD. But I do believe strongly that you can have pretty soap in nice dispensers, towels that look and feel good against the skin, mixing tools and bowls for the kitchen that fit your personal style too, and that you aren't going to necessarily pay more for the white bowl versus the ugly one that has the crazy pattern on it.

So, what do you think? Could you embrace this style of living? Or at least, try to create your own version of Wabi Sabi at home? And if so, how do you intend to do this - any of the 10 tips above resonate with you?

(Photos credited above)

Holly BeckerComment
5 Easy Steps To Host a Lovely Little Party at Home

Hello dear decor8 readers! If you are in the mood for a minimalist and bright table decoration with flowers that, yay!, announce spring... come along! This is Anke with a new column for the month of February where I want to show you how uncomplicated a little party at home can really be. In this column, I want to show you five (5) easy steps to a very nice party for your friends. It can be to celebrate anything, but also to celebrate nothing in particular except to have a nice excuse to host friends.

1. TABLETOP THEME

First, my table is laid in foundation white and grey colors this time giving the setting a very fresh look. Geometrical shaped vases as well as the ones with a concrete surface emphasize the clean and modern visual appearance. It's easy to go with tons of white because it's very easy to source, in fact most of us have white dinnerware and some white vases in our cabinet. You can mix and match shapes and textures very easily if everything is in the same tone of white.

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2. HOSTESS GIFT

Think of a little something small to give to your guests. In order to repeat the geometrical theme, I folded white paper Octahedron pendants for every guest to take home after the gathering and placed these on the cake plates. I used pink adhesive dots to add a little color. You will find a lot of different instructions/ templates for geometric shapes on the internet! I discovered the one I used on this site. In Germany, we like to hang little ornaments on branches to decorate our homes during Easter, so this gift gives my guests something they can use on their branch during Easter, for instance.

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3. FLOWERS

I always like to pick flowers that set the tone of the party, the color of the flowers create the palette for this tabletop since my vases and plates are white. You can do the same, let the flowers dictate the palette, makes it very easy! My heralds of spring are white Anemones, white Ranunculus, pale pink and white Hyacinths, slim white Tulips, Eucalyptus sprigs and huge Poppies. I simply arranged them loosely in different vases, without planning. Only for the wreath I proceeded with a little bit of a system.

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Isn't the salmon colored Poppy an uncontested show stealer?!

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4. WALL DECOR

I always like to make a little something for the wall nearby to the table to repeat the theme from the table to the wall somehow. You can try something similiar. The beautiful white wreath ring from danish manufacturer Strups was a Christmas present of a dear friend of mine. It is such a toy for every decoration enthusiast and can be ordered in two sizes and different colors.

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5. SIMPLE CAKE

You don't have to lay out a roast that you spent a day preparing! Try to think smaller, but handmade and special. A simple cake will do with a pot of coffee or tea and some prosecco to make it a bit festive (we add prosecco to everything in Germany to give it a festive feeling - including brunch!). For my party, I made a moist Austrian Mohnkuchen Gugelhupf (Poppyseed Bundt Cake) I served with Lingonberry Whipped Cream, yum. If you google, look for "Austrian Mohnkuchen Gugelhupf" or "Poppyseed Bundt Cake".

So let's review. You have your tabletop planned with white ceramics, glassware and white vases, with loosely styled flowers in each vase. You've made a simple hostess gift for each guest out of paper. You've made a small wreath for your wall using the flowers from the table. You've added a nice homemade cake to the table with some sparkling wine. Now, you could add some tealights, a soothing playlist and great conversation and you have a perfect little party for your dear friends. That wasn't so hard, was it?

I hope to see you again in March to show you some ideas for Easter decoration. Honestly, I can hardly await the end of winter and the return of light and warmth! - Love, Anke

(Text, Photography and Styling: Anke Illner)

10 Special Things That I Loved About Formland Fair in Denmark 2018

Hello everyone. I was recently at Formland in Herning, Denmark for the first time and so I wanted to tell you all about it because it was just great! I was invited as a special guest to give the opening speech along with two lectures, one on trends for 2018 and the other on the unexpected health benefits of good design. I had a great time and I will definitely return again someday, for sure. At Formland, you can expect to see the latest trends and tendencies within Scandinavian design today and in the near future. The fair has been around for 34 years with a total of over 67 fairs so far. I can see why people attend this fair, it was certainly special.

Formland 2018

There was so much about it that I really liked, but I'll break it down in 10 bite-size points:

1. GREAT OVERALL SIZE

It was large enough to feel fun to explore, but small enough to not feel exhausted, overwhelmed or like you had to spend hours digging to get to the pearls - it was quite easy to find beautiful things, fast.

2. INSPIRING TREND PRESENTATION

It had, by far, one of the best trend presentations that I've ever seen at a fair. This was a big shock, I wasn't expecting it, but it's the truth. It was so well organized, huge, beautiful and also educational and valuable. I could have spent half a day in the trend zones created by the talented duo STUDIE FLYHELSTED. I would return to this fair JUST for the trend zones by these two ladies - they were really THAT good.

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formland_trend_zone.JPG

3. CURATED HALL = LOVE

I loved the curated hall by Danish interiors celebrity, Mads Arlien-Søborg. This was the hall I stayed in the most during day two. There wasn't one booth in the entire hall that I disliked, everything was gorgeous and so well presented. I really like the idea of having a tastemaker curate an entire hall at a fair. Why aren't more fairs doing this? I want to curate a hall at a fair - would be exciting!

Lamps from Oi Soi Oi

Lamps from Oi Soi Oi

4. FOOD HALL LOVE

I really liked the food hall. It was great to have a good hall to begin with, because you could walk around and sample things and meet people and the vibe was really open and friendly. I also liked knowing that when I ran out of energy, I could go to the food hall and find chocolate or something to munch on.

5. FAIR FOOD WAS GREAT

Speaking of food from point 4, the food at the actual fair was delicious. Each hall had it's own cafe and some, a few different things like a cafe and a food truck, or a food truck and a non-alcoholic bar... In any case, it was so well done and everything was fresh and delicious. I had a very healthy avocado salad loaded with other delicious things and it gave me the perfect energy boost. Most of the time, fairs have terrible food or very unhealthy things - Formland thought of everything! They even had a MICHELIN STAR Asian food truck - HELLO. Have you ever seen THAT on offer at a fair?

9 Special Things That I Loved About Formland Fair in Denmark 2018

6. FRIENDLY EXHIBITORS

This was such a highlight for me personally. I loved how friendly the exhibitors were, and how they invited people who were using Instagram or bloggers to take as many photos as desired and they even told people to rearrange products and style things as they wish for photos, it was quite amazing really - there wasn't a single booth with a "NO PHOTOGRAPHY" sign, everyone was open and invited and encouraged photography, conversation, styling, anything!

7. NEW TALENTS SECTION

I really liked the new talents section, it was so lovely to meet the many exhibitors there who were eager to show us what they are producing. Their passion was very contagious and I liked strolling around there meeting everyone. I got the sense that all of the exhibitors were really trying to help each other too. Many times, a stand would suggest another exhibitor there I should check out, or would walk me over to their friend who was selling this or that product. There was a great community spirit at this fair but especially in the New Talents Section and in the Curated Hall by Mads Arlien-Søborg.

8. TASTEMAKERS/INFLUENCERS GALLERY

This was the coolest presentation I've seen yet at a fair - an entire hallway dedicated to tastemakers and influencers whom the fair invited to take part in showcasing favorites from the fair. They had everyone from the Editor-in-Chief of Bo Bodre, Charlotte Ravnholt, to others considered tastemakers in Denmark and also me, as an online influencer and trend expert. This was such a great use of an otherwise boring hallway between halls! Instead, it was filled with things we'd handpicked - was great!

9 Special Things That I Loved About Formland Fair in Denmark 2018
9 Special Things That I Loved About Formland Fair in Denmark 2018

9. POP UP FLOWER SHOP

This was another unexpected treat - a local florist, Bloom, on site! And after they make an arrangement for you, they kept it all day with your name on it so you could return at the end of the fair and have something inspiring to bring home with you. This was great.

10. MEET GREAT PEOPLE

What I didn't expect was that a smaller, more focused fair like Formland gives you an incredible chance to MEET great people. I really connected with people - exhibitors, magazine editors, sales agents, trend experts, all of them. I also got to connect with those whom I know already and care about, like my new friend Stefan from TrendStefan in Stockholm. Here were are below clowning around a bit after we were both interviewed on camera by the fair.

Stefan Nillson and Holly Becker
Stefan and Holly

Will I go back to this fair? ABSOLUTELY. I loved their new format, how they've taken the fair to new heights, and I felt the fair was inspiring and felt fresh.

Thank you Formland for having me as your opening speaker (a mini clip of me speaking here with an audience of 300) and for being so kind in welcoming me to give two trend lectures, too. I loved being there and will always remember it as a great time and one of the friendliest fairs I've ever been too.

(Photographs: iPhone 6plus)

 

Exclusive Interview With Tom Dixon Regarding His IKEA DELAKTIG Collaboration

We’ve all heard about IKEA hacks right? Well they’ve now come up with the first official hackable product, designed by Tom Dixon for IKEA and which is open for your interpretation and imagination. 

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Hi everyone, it’s Mel here. Last week my adopted city of Stockholm was jam-packed with events around town for Design Week, in conjunction with the Stockholm Furniture & Lighting Fair. One of the events I attended was a press talk on sustainable design and circular economy with IKEA and Tom Dixon, to coincide with the release of their collaboration, DELAKTIG. At the end of the talk I had the opportunity to interview Tom, which I’m so excited to share with you here on decor8! But first, some background about their partnership. 

I attended an evening in conversation with Tom in Auckland, New Zealand a few years ago and one thing that struck me about this iconic British designer is that he is anything but conventional. So when I heard that he spent time in car factories when researching for a new functional and sustainable furniture line for his collaboration with IKEA, I wasn’t surprised. From there, he looked at smartphones, where people are constantly downloading and changing the applications and interface to suit their changing needs. He then got to work on the project with seventy-five design students around the world as part of their Masters degree, a great way to look at design through another generation’s eyes and needs. 

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To Tom, sustainability is very much about the longevity of a product that will stick around for longer, as people use it differently and as their lives evolve.  He came up with a base that is a comfortable and affordable bed and that has add-on components, to make it into a sofa. What I find exciting here, is that is that not all parts for DELAKTIG, which translates to, “involved”, are available at IKEA. I’ll explain how it works.

You’ll find the base, which comes in three different sizes, along with backrests, tables, sides and light units at IKEA. All of it is very functional and adaptable as is, however as a world first, approved hacks can be purchased elsewhere. Tom Dixon has covers and add-ons available exclusively through him and Bemz who are known for their custom sewn IKEA sofa covers. You can, of course, get creative and hack the product yourself, hence the aluminum frame, that, along with its durability, is a metal that’s easy to design in grooves and parts, making it easy to hack in. 

It’s an interesting idea, as a designer you’re always trying to create the perfect iconic product to sell and market. Here we were doing the opposite, it was: How can we make the perfect base for people to do what they want? It’s both thrilling and terrifying.
— Tom Dixon

The day before the interview, I walked along Hamngatan, a main shopping strip here in Stockholm. The four main windows of the department store, Nordiska Kompaniet, were dedicated to Tom Dixon, design icon. Seeing his creations there all together reminded me of just how huge this man is in the design world and I admit, it stirred up a few healthy nerves in me. Tom soon put me at ease though. He is sharp, super passionate and he is self-taught, which I suspect might be his weapon in pushing the boundaries of design. 

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Mel: I love the idea of good design being available to everybody. Is that one of the reasons that you teamed up with IKEA?

Tom: I worked for ten years as creative director of Habitat, which was owned by IKEA at the time, so I had a much deeper insight into what they do and how they do it, than most other designers.  In that context, when I started my company and after ten to twelve years working as an independent and building my own brand, I did miss the affordability, mass production and the might of working with experts in that field. So those two factors and also the fact that realistically I don’t think that we’ll ever do beds because of the logistically they are complex with comfort levels and various mattress sizes in different territories. It’s not the sort of thing that we’d be able to do properly because IKEA dominate in this area. In that context, it was the right person to go to. I also like that more luxury fashion labels are working with high street and doing something that is mutually beneficially stretching themselves. I loved the Commes des Garcons and H&M collaboration.

M: Did you learn anything through IKEA’s production chain? 

T: The learnings were more about the mentality towards change and working with a company that has resources to pull on and can make big decisions that have got global impact. They spoke about that earlier in regards to the amount of glue they use (referring to how IKEA is now developing a more environmentally friendly glue which will reduce 2% of their emissions). You learn a hell of a lot from the work methods and the way they are organised. There is also a kind of second generation in IKEA coming through now and they are intent on changing the way in which they work. There are bigger openings. The hacking idea three or four years would have been impossible because they were keeping their secrets. We were talking about this project once it (hacking) started. Why would we do that for, when there is nothing to buy, so why would we talk about it? But in the modern world, that’s what you do. You also have access to vast amount of data of what goes on in people’s lives and how they live, which you never get in a small company.

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M: What do you think about sustainability in general and how are designers like yourself trying to solve the problem? 

T: I think it’s essential to have an aptitude to it and take it very seriously. Every designer has a duty to do that but then again, so does every consumer and every government. It has become such a pressing thing and obviously for most of us, it’s very hard to unravel the complexity of what one should do about it. I think just being active is definitely what you have to do and be conscious. Then also, without a doubt, my thing always comes back to making something that will stick around long enough to justify the production in the first place. Then there’s aluminium, obviously there are all sorts of issues in terms of mining but if you make it, it can be recycled, it’s valuable enough that if you left the sofa on the street, someone will recycle it because there is a few pounds in it. You can also recycle it forever, you have to add a small percentage of virtual material, something like ten or fifteen percent, but it is infinitely recyclable, unlike plastic.

M: What designers have your attention in London at the moment?

T: There are more conceptual artists at the moment that are amazing like, Philippe Malouin and Max Lamb. Watch out for Faye Toogood who is a stylist turned furniture and fashion designer. I can’t think about any stores off the top of my head though. 

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M: On the topic of retail, what do you think about the future of it, and how can shops keep people coming in, as apposed to shopping online?

T: It sounds cliché but you have to entertain people, you have to go into the world of entertainment and activity and exclusivity for some things. You have to work harder than ever before because locations are expensive. That’s not why we’ve gone into having a restaurant in place but you want to keep the place alive then people will want to visit. People will still want to go places, whether they buy in store or later online is almost immaterial but you need to engage and you’ve got to work a lot harder than before. 

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Okay lovely decor8 readers, I have a question for you now. How do you shop for things for your home these days? Do you pay attention to whether the product has had a sustainability component in the design process? What do you think about a product like DELAKTIG adapting to your changing needs and would something like that work in your life?

See you in March! - Mel

(Text: Mel Chesneau, Photos, IKEA and BEMZ)