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Living Simply: The Materiality of Everyday Objects

I haven’t added to my Living Simply series in quite a while, because I didn’t want to write something “just because” - I really did want it to be considered and to matter! Well, I came to the realization that materiality is a topic that I haven’t yet discussed on the blog - so I figured now was the time.

Now, I’ve spoken a lot about my consideration of fabrics and material composition within my wardrobe: what I like, what I don’t like and my goal to integrate more natural materials (rather than synthetics). I’ve been doing the same in my everyday life!

Quite a few years ago, I realized that the items that I “cherished” (or felt that would stand the test of time) were items that were intentionally designed and usually of more natural materials like:

  • Wood

  • Glass

  • Metal

  • Fabric

  • Paper

  • Ceramic

  • Stone

So basically… anything but plastic. While plastic is still everywhere and a ton of the items I own and use everyday are made from this man-made material - I’ve tried my best to opt for more natural materials when purchasing new or replacing older items. The reason for this is

  1. Intentionality of design

  2. Longevity

  3. Energy of the materiality

Number 3 maybe sounds a little “extra” but I do think there is a tangible difference one can feel when they hold a handcrafted ceramic mug versus a plastic cup from the dollar store.

I think I partially realized this difference in energy when I was in art school and was connecting to the materiality of objects in a different way: like sculpting my own ceramics and welding my first toolbox (which is no longer in existence because welding is hard!!). I learned a certain appreciation and connection to materials that I feel has influenced the way I look at objects now.

The other thing is - huge shoutout to all the talented artisans and artists out there who create beautiful objects by hand. That’s definitely something I want to support in my purchases as well. But that’s not always in the budget - handcrafted items are expensive and rightfully so - it takes talent, years of practice and a lot of time to create something beautiful and functional. If that’s not in the cards, there are also tons of options at thrift stores - so while it may take a little longer to find the right item - there are definitely budget-friendly ways to find objects that have the right “energy”.

How do you feel about the materiality of objects in your home? Some items that I have intentionally thought about:

  • Putting my moisturizers and other products in amber glass refillable bottles

  • Makeup products that are wood or metal (and refillable too!)

  • Stone coasters

But a lot of the time, it’s just looking for items that are normally in plastic and trying to find them in different materials:

  • Little drawers for organizing small stuff like makeup

  • Décor items like frames, lamps, baskets, etc.

  • Watering can

Plastic is really prevalent and is much cheaper to produce, so it is more common to see items with plastic components. I know that no matter what, there will be plastic in my life - so I haven’t set a standard for myself to be “plastic free” - it’s just that as I shop, I do try to find objects that are made from natural materials.

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