After a full week of traveling across the country, it is nice to be back with my kids and husband. It’s also great just to be home. I love our apartment. It has a modern, airy vibe with a little bit of ethnic touches thrown in (though, given our tendency towards indecision, it’s taken YEARS to furnish it).
Over the years I have often marveled at how much my husband and I are in sync. And, funny enough, this thought often strikes me when it comes to decorating our apartment. We pretty much like the same types of furniture, artwork and architecture. Given how many important things there are to agree upon – kids, education, money matters, religion – I often wonder why such a small issue like aesthetic design stood out to me. Sure, it’s just one less thing we have to argue about, but still….
It turns out having the same taste in architecture and design is no small matter. After reading The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton, I realized why sharing the same aesthetic sensibility isn’t trivial at all.
Botton’s book explains the value of architecture, and why it has a profound effect on our feelings of happiness and misery. Beautiful buildings “extol values we think are worthwhile.” We care about the beauty of our homes because they reflect our ideals and the “desirable versions of ourselves.” And our aesthetic sensibility or design taste mirrors our desire to affirm a positive life situation or, in many cases, a departure from a lifestyle we find deficient.
Here’s a great example. Le Corbusier, one of the most famous and influential modernist architects of the 20th century, was commissioned in the 1920’s to build houses for factory workers in France. Given his aesthetic approach, he built a series of no-frills, undecorated boxes epitomizing the beauty (or so he thought) of modern technology and industry.
But the workers had a very different sense of beauty and they immediately started adding flourishes like gnomes, wallpaper and picket fences. Why? Because, as factory workers, they spent ALL DAY in clean, un-frilled, sterile environments. What they lacked in their everyday – imagination, color, warmth – they sought to make up for in their homes.
What does the “Posner design aesthetic” indicate? Perhaps my husband and I are searching for a sense of calmness and collectedness amidst a hectic, type-A lifestyle or we seek a feeling of airiness despite the tight quarters of NYC. So while it may take us a year and a half to buy a sofa, what’s fantastic at the end of it all is that we both agree on what style we want, and, ultimately, the vision of the kind of life we want to lead.
Now, if he’d just put the toilet seat down after he’s finished . . .