Crafted Collections: Kondo Craze or Organization Obsession | 243 | The Design Influencer & Innovator Group

The Summer months always seem to drag on for me. I think that is because I am laser focused on the Fall. I love the Fall. It is my favorite season for so many reasons, not the least of which are the design focused events that happen around Southern California. This is why I started the Design Influencer Series in May and we have already held three amazing events. This was the third in this on-going series and the topic, as we approach Fall was “Collecting and Organization.” 

The Marie Kondo craze has taken full effect, and to be quite honest with you, I’m not really sure how I feel about it so I wanted to ask the professionals. This gathering was held at the Ornate showroom on Beverly Blvd in West Hollywood. The ideas was a bit overwhelming for me and imagine it is for many of you as well. Folding, purging, clearing out your ‘stuff’ and not collecting more. Seems like a foreign concept, but I wanted some fresh insights. Here is who joined the discussion:

Jason Lai

L2 Interiors


Lori Dennis

Lori Dennis, Inc.


Eva Sobesky

EIS Interiors



Brian Wickersham

AUX Architecture


Christopher Mercier

(FER) Studio


Joseph Speirer

Joseph Speirer Architects


Jeff Valenson

Jeff Valenson Design


Lynnea Schweiters

Lynnea Jean Design


Stephanie Leese

L2 Interiors


It was amazing to hear what this distinguished group of creatives think about the concept of self-edit, clutter, organization and accumulation of ‘stuff’.

The ‘Stuff’ Culture and the Art of the Edit. Ours is a society built on things. If one has many things, one requires many places to house ones them. For many reasons, this is changing. It has to change. Climate change is affected by over production, over development, over delivery and over consumption. How does a designer who favors Maximalism operate in a world favoring less. It seems they edit more than they have in the past. The edit has always been part of the design process. It has always been an asset to those creatives who could honestly create using all their skills and still walk a few ideas back afterwards. That no longer appears to be a luxury.

Collecting Vs. Clutter.  There is a difference between the non-purposeful accumulation of things and a curated collection of objects. The former is what happens to most of us through the course of our lives. A ‘thing’ here, article of clothing there and before you are even aware, it has led to the destruction of your space’s harmony and peace. The key to Marie Kondo’s philosophical approach to de-cluttering lies in the ability to be honest and self-edit with purpose. How many of us can really do that. Yet another value proposition for the design and architecture community.

Designer and architect Role’s Are Greater Than Ever Before. Traditional roles for designers and architects to create spaces and places are changing rapidly due to a litany of factors that all emanate from the changing definition of “home” and what functionality we require of our space. We live in a consumer based society and a trend has emerged that challenges the very notion of what we buy and why we buy it. The idea of buying, not simply to consume or ‘keep up with the Jones’s. 

Editor’s Note: those ‘Jonses’, can’t stand them but they are real. We all know them and whether real or imagined, there is a strong urge to keep up with the latest in style and design, fashion, etc. As long as wealth continues to serve as an outward barometer of success, buying the latest, whatever-it-is will be in vogue. Designers, you have more of a say now than ever before what money shows, or doesn’t.

Experiences Over Things. There is an ever strengthening desire for experience over things to define who we are. Experiences define the individual and designers/ architects define the space for showcasing those experiences. It is an era of “who we are’ over ‘what we have’ and designers, decorators and architects are experimenting new was to replicate some experiences in an individual construct. Exciting times. At the same time, important to note the thoughts of one designer who said, “Create a space and curate it for the client, not instagram.” True.

Editor’s Note: It feels to me as though the advent of social media isn’t all bad. Social media serves as a ‘show-and-tell’ where we can display proof of our excursions and experience in a quantifiable setting. A setting suitable for feedback from our social networks. We get the validation we seek not from buying something but from an experience that, instead of adding to the popularity of what was bought and shown, is another chapter in the story of us. Experience seems to have overtaken the t-shirt, bauble or item as the method of showcase for adding to our story.

Getting To Know Your Clients.  Clients have so much more access to new sources of design talent. There is a new and exciting digital world with new opportunities and sometimes, the excitement of new beats out the comfort of familiar. The time has come to get to know and understand clients on a deeper level. This means understanding not just what they like, why they like it but also how liking this might be affected by outside factors. This isn’t endorsing the idea that you must be besties with your clients. It means that understanding their true desires on a deeper level will help creatives retain their clients and become, truly indispensable. This came up in conversation many times while exploring the idea of organization, storage and design. If designers and architects can understand the true thoughts and desires of their clients, they can edit on behalf of clients and get rid of excesses in the design process. That service of editing out potential excesses is a remarkable added value to clients.

Editor’s Note: When I first published Convo By Design six years ago, many in the industry would tell me about great friendships with clients. Those friendships led to return business and word of mouth business. We are at a crossroad. There is still a desire to maintain strong relationships with clients, yet clients have more opportunities than ever before to seek out new designers who might have a different perspective on client preferences. I published an episode featuring Bunny Williams recently. It was recorded at LCDQ’s Legends event. Bunny suggested that designers not feel as though they MUST be friends with all their clients. Be the professional advisor first. Being the advisor means helping your clients make tough decisions. Those tough choices ultimately make your client’s lives better, more enjoyable.

The Marie Kondo effect has brought out strong emotions, both for and against her ideas. Only you can decide how much is too much. As a designer, your clients look to you for guidance. This presents a phenomenal opportunity to have the conversation.

The Top 5 Most Important Issues Affecting Shelter Design Creatives in a  Konmari World

Summer 2019

5. The ability to strategically edit is a skill to be treasured.

4. There is a difference between curated collecting and consumerist clutter.

3. Designers and architects have a greater role now. They must create a more seamless approach based on personality and less on objects.

2. Clients value experience over things more now than ever before.

1. Get to know your clients for not just who they are but by what made them who they are and what they want to be.