Just five years ago, Japanese organizing guru Marie Kondo released her book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up and her profile and influence has been on an astonishing rise ever since. Her signature KonMari tidying-up method of a home has become so popular that she has literally become a verb in that people ask if you’ve “Kondo-ed” your home. Her guiding mantra of “Spark Joy”—also the title of her second book—has become part of our collective vocabulary as a new synonym for things you really like. A Rolling Stone magazine article describes how the Japanese religion of Shintoism suggests that “spiritual energy is present in everything around us.” The KonMari method is a way for people to recognize this energy and only keep the things that exude positivity and purpose.
Millions of viewers have binged Marie’s Netflix reality show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and witnessed how her organizing tips have transformed homes and lives. In each episode, families and couples are coached by Marie to keep only the possessions that are personally meaningful in order to live their best lives. The Netflix show plus her two books have justly made the radiant and inspirational Marie an important cultural phenomenon.
Marie Kondo’s popularity has hit such a peak in recent months that thrift stores around the country have been experiencing an overflow of cast-off possessions since her show debuted in early 2019. Her profile in pop culture has become so “A-List” that she and her husband were invited to attend the recent Academy Awards Oscar ceremony. Looking resplendent in a sparkling and joyful gown, Ms. Kondo was the living embodiment of her famous motto.
SPARK JOY FROM THE GET-GO
Interior designers may find the KonMari method a valuable tool when establishing goals and design concepts with their clients in the beginning stages of a project. Whether it is a renovation or new construction, ensuring that your clients include only items that “spark joy” into their homes may just pay off in dividends. Working with your clients to consider how items make them happy can make the entire design process not only efficient and enjoyable but ultimately more successful overall.
Marie’s company KonMari is a full-time consultancy that trains and certifies organizational experts who go on to “Kondo” their clients’ homes. While the KonMari method is primarily geared to those looking to radically organize their space, it can be used as a way to “filter out furniture and items that do not spark joy and are not worthy of being part of a new design. Why not be proactive by sourcing the components of a design project by only inserting items that clients truly love. This can also open up an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of your clients’ taste and go above and beyond expectations.
In her first book, Marie describes how she arrived at the concept of “spark joy.” At first, she was overly concerned with getting rid of extra things but later pivoted to the importance of cherishing the items that give you pleasure. You must assess whether or not to keep an item by physically holding it, touching it, and asking the question: “Does this spark joy?” She stresses the importance of personally handling each item in order to determine if it truly sparks joy in your life.
The KonMari method is certainly compatible with an interior designers’ goals to create environments that perfectly suit clients’ tastes and lifestyles. As described on Marie’s website, the goal of this method is to free a person’s home from clutter in order to create “spaces of serenity and inspiration.” Marie explains in her first book that the “true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order.”
ENVISION YOUR IDEAL LIFE
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Before you begin tidying, imagine your ideal life. What would an ideal evening in your room look like? What items would you use? ⠀ ⠀ Be as specific as you can – for example, something as specific as "When I come home from work, I want to drink a hot cup of Earl Gray tea and burn my favorite citrus candle. Before I go to bed, I want to play classical music and do yoga." is a great place to start. You can add ideas about inviting your friends over for a dinner party, or spending time with your kids only using the toys they like.⠀ ⠀ Once you have this picture in mind, the tidying process will go much smoother. ⠀ ⠀ Photo by @kesslerpatillo.
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Encourage your clients to image their ideal life when envisioning their room design.
The Atlantic magazine captured the essence of Marie Kondo’s by claiming it is “about cultivating empathy for the things that surround us." The evocative notion of how objects affect you emotionally can be incredibly useful when sourcing items for a home. In her first book, she advises people to dream vividly in concrete terms about the life and home that would support their goals and overall happiness. In her second book, she expands on her concepts and claims that a home filled with joy-filled objects can be considered a “personal art museum.”
Marie encourages people to indulge in their wildest fantasies as to how they want to create “a living environment filled with the things we love.” She suggests you find a single image the represents the ideal space by searching interior design magazines and books to find the one image that will inspire a room design.
STOP THE CLUTTER BEFORE IT BEGINS
The website Business of Home published a recent blog post how Marie Kondo’s methods are influencing the way designers work with their client’s current possessions and new items they want to bring into a design. Some designers even consider Marie Kondo beyond organization and consider her a life coach.
Work with your client to stop cluttering before it starts by designing an interior that will highlight and showcase only the items that spark joy. As a designer, you might have to contend with renovations where a client’s possessions get in the way. You can gently nudge your client to “Kondo” their things before a renovation. This will allow them to purge their belongings in a way that makes them feel good about letting go and accept a new design.
KONMARI IN THE DESIGN WORLD
Elle Décor interviewed Marie Kondo in an article where she shared organizing tips in the context of decorating a space. Her original mission of organizing has evolved to include improving the overall health and wellness of her clients’ lives. She shared that her clients seek a “life that is more centered around mindfulness and wellness” and it comes from “understanding of what sparks joy in your life and makes you feel the happiest.”
Architectural Digest featured the KonMari method an article about what they consider the three best storage tips. They highlighted the importance of discarding before storing, storing by category, and arranging things upright. These tips can certainly guide you as a designer to consider just how many storage areas you want to incorporate into a design, customize areas for key categories, and find furniture and storage containers that will nicely store things upright.
In the end, Marie Kondo just wants to guide her clients and fans to live their best lives through the freedom and satisfaction of a tidy home. In an article in Entertainment Weekly, she revealed that she really wants people to “find the values that they hold dear and start living a life that sparks joy.” Nothing makes her happier than to see a client who beams with pride and lives a more accomplished and liberated life free from unwanted possessions.
Visit Marie Kondo’s KonMari website here where you can order her books (including a new Manga edition). Share some of your favorite organization tips in the comments below. We would love to feature images of your organized spaces transformed by the KonMari on Studio Designer’s social media so feel free to share by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.