On Prettying Up The "Banalities of Life" (Or Why It's Ok That I Style My Produce Drawer)

Photo: Phil Mansfield for The New York Times

I am fascinated by J. Morgan Puett.

The NYT recently ran a piece about the fashion designer and artist wherein her refrigerator was highlighted as a sort of living art lab:

Ms. Puett sees the refrigerator as just as valid a territory for thoughtful arrangement as any other part of the house. "It's a really fun game," she said. "It makes moving through the banalities of life stimulating."  

While I've clearly got nothing on J. Morgan Puett, I've been known to style up my fridge and pretty up my pantry from time to time. Oh who am I kidding. My name is Joslyn, and a perfectly arranged produce drawer is my nirvana.

I get poked fun about this... a lot. And I get it. On some level, obsessively decanting your granola into one of those big glass cracker jars is at best silly and at worst totally obsessive. But I think there's just something, well, essential about it.

I was chatting with my lovely friend Martha yesterday, and our conversation reinforced my (crazy-lady) thinking. Martha is an aesthete through and through -- a fellow lover of beauty. She recently heard Pritzker Prize laureate, architect Renzo Piano speak and was mesmerized. (Piano designed my beloved Nasher Sculpture Center, as well as my bucket-list dwelling Atelier Brancusi in Paris... I am a fan.) She shared some bits from Piano's talk that particularly stood out, like, say...

"Beauty changes the world."
"Beauty wakes up your consciousness. It is essential to life."

Atelier Brancusi via Renzo Piano

Nasher Sculpture Center via Renzo Piano

After she left, she couldn't stop imagining how Piano lived, how he went about executing the "banalities of life." We decided that he probably wakes up, puts on some Rachmaninoff (or Bob Dylan if he's feeling frisky) and enjoys a single perfect cup of espresso while reading the paper. We concluded that he does not, like us, madly scroll through the Internet, frantically answer emails, throw on the clothes he wore yesterday, and race to Starbucks for a caffeine fix...

Suffice to say, I could learn a lot from Piano, least of all that a beautifully organized pantry (or fridge, or linen closet) isn't the sign of someone who needs a styling intervention or therapy; It's "essential to life."

Thanks Renzo.


Mary said...

Love this post and totally agree. I never thought of it as "styling", but rather keeping things organized, clean, simple, and yes I suppose appreciating the display in some cases. (I too keep my granola in a big jar.) Beauty is essential.

second floor dweller said...

What a treat, to think about Renzo Piano this afternoon. I've heard him lecture as well, and I agree - he's fascinating.

I lived in Genoa many, many years ago while studying architecture. We spent many afternoons in his design studio, and visiting his projects around the area.

Jo Harper said...

I remember learning in a class years ago that beauty is the spilling-over of the divine into our earthly realm. Pretty sure that was Plotinus. It's easiest to connect to the divine through the beautiful. I've always liked that.

Hilary said...

And, of course, now you have the new portion of the Kimbell in Fort Worth designed by Piano to visit!!

Joslyn said...

Absolutely! We're planning a trek to Ft. Worth this coming weekend!!