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interior superior: 5 Things To Do Right Now to Go Metabolist Minimal

interior superiorTaylor P.Comment
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I've always, or at least since I can remember, had a huge fascination with Metabolism in Architecture. Perhaps it was my love for the 60's-70's or the World's Fair but much of what I love in design originated in the juxtaposition between the utilitarianism and the natural world. Metabolism is essentially that. Although the majority of features are inherently space age and minimal, the forms often took an exaggerated importance with a more organic feel. This, in some ways, was reminiscent of Brutalism but with a softer touch.

Rooted in postwar Japan, the movement began with a proposal by architects, artists, and designers to significantly overhaul the classical conventions of urban design. The sky was the limit in terms of how they represented this new form of the built environment. Think colossal structures with an organic, fuzzy side. 

Historically, the style was short-lived in terms of application but the longevity of different principles and characteristics lived on. The architecture was visionary and extremely ahead of the times with ideas that could be utilized now. For those more interested in the history and philosophy behind the movement, this book  is amazing. Although many of the buildings now are gone, or in a state of disrepair, the extreme detail of design and ergonomics were wonderful examples of what architecture could accomplish. 

I'm currently in the process of renovating a 1940's bungalow made out of marble and the interiors were severely dated in terms of having pre-minimalist bones but a lot of filler. The upper attic has a really unique layout and details which I felt would make the perfect studio to work from. I had some reservations about completely whitewashing the space but found that by taking a more organic approach it is coming together in a way that captures the spirit of this movement for me. While most modern designs don't really echo the same aesthetic, there are more distilled versions of some attributes of the style that could be utilized in our homes today. Some are more obvious than others but the organic spirit is what counts.

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I know most of us can't afford to completely overhaul our spaces or give up all of our precious worldly possessions in favor of something more utilitarian. We can, however, adapt some of the principles of this design strategy and make it our own.  I found some simple, relatively quick ways to echo this movement while still keeping it my own space and hope that these tips might help out others as well!

Nakagin Capsule Tower. ( s. )

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1. WHITE ALL OVER

Metabolism was an anomaly in the realm of architecture movements because it blended the grandiose and unconventional with the organic. There are some things about those bright white, pristine walls and low-intensity contrast that set my cold heart aflutter. Paired with textured woolen grays and pops of color (orange, chartreuse, and mint being some favorite recommendations,) the bright white becomes a warm and friendly environment sans the clutter. The result was more visually open, brighter, and energizing. Muted stone elements (like marble) add additional texture to a space. 

The white doesn't have to be just limited to walls either. I even went as far as painting some of my midcentury furniture white and it made a huge impact on how open the space feels. Circular forms and organic shapes were key features that set off the most symmetrical/perfected qualities in the space. Repetitive geometric forms were also desirable. Finding multiple functions or uses for items, when painted a similar color, can give a sense of cohesion that reduces the scattered energy in our modern world. Of course, using environmentally responsible paints or other low-impact paints would be ideal. 

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2. PLANT LOVE
The unity of man and nature with technology and advancement are characteristics very apparent in Metabolism. By taking a more passive role, we can find ways to configure the natural elements with the more stoic ones. When I think of that style-- mossy forms and a good balance of hanging/potted plants, cacti, or succulents are the first things that come to mind. Basically bringing the natural world in, with organic shapes and textures, can breathe new life into your space and put you in touch with your inner spirit. 

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3. HIGHLIGHT (A FEW OF ) YOUR FAVORITE THINGS
In an age of the maximalist, it is difficult to go minimalist. But it is good to *wabi sabi* your life a bit and put meaning into the objects that inhabit your space. If it does not serve a purpose or bring you joy, it needs to go. By having more minimal features in your space, it gives you an opportunity to highlight the things you love in a more intentional way. This speaks volumes about who you are as a person and can be a mechanism for growth (as well as reducing your carbon footprint)-- all good things. 

Wood is good, ya'll. ( s. )

Wood is good, ya'll. (s.)

4. WOOD IS YOUR COPILOT
Beyond contrasting with color, wood can be a great vehicle for offsetting the more clinical attributes of the Metabolist style Wood floors, some furnishings, or an accent wall can add an unexpected visual element to make your space more dynamic and aesthetically pleasing. Not only is it natural but it also has a story and a history as it was likely existing here before you were even a thought in the world.  It is a great way to pay homage to the world by showing some love for it. 

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5. A SEASHELL | A MOLD | A SPIRIT
Noburu Kawazoe wrote an essay entitled I want to be a sea-shell, I want to be a mold, I want to be a spirit and within it (albeit rather abstractly) discussed the proposed unity of man and nature. Something we can adopt from this is that, in existential terms, we come from our planet and the relationship to it is symbiotic. By honoring the natural world, we can live a more genuine life. Our environment is often the shape, or mold, that we are surrounded by. To transcend beyond ourselves and to unify with the world around us in a present way can enrich our lives and relationships in ways unfathomable. I believe, out of these 5, it is the most important takeway. By being intentional with our actions and our surroundings we can build a world that is closer to nature and our origins. 

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counterculture: and like the phoenix, i rise, i rise || ten meditations

countercultureTaylor P.
"lone descent" by  Dafni Kemeridou

"lone descent" by Dafni Kemeridou

THE RISING TIDE

Life can be painful and confusing but at the end of the day every experience shapes and molds us. The end goal (we hope) is that we evolve into better, kinder, wiser versions of ourselves. The older I get, the more I try to refine myself as a person and become a better version of myself. But that better version isn't without growing pains or failures. There are many times I have made lapses of judgement, poor choices, and thrown caution to the wind. I will continue making mistakes and I know that, but I will do my best not to make as many.

When I had my daughter, something within me changed. I am no longer the person I once was-- in a way I became the person I used to be, only I took a detour. In some ways it has made me more loving and patient, but in other ways it has made me more discerning about who or what I want in my life for the next cycle. I am no longer shackled to the things that held me captive before, and although there are different limitations now, I feel more responsive to the world and more confident about my place in it.

Last year I crumbled to dust and was almost swept away by the events of life, but somehow I found courage and strength to rise from the ashes. I am no longer the same but something different. But it also means no longer tolerating that which does not create happiness. When any relationship, big or small, brings you more pain than joy it is time to let go. If I have learned nothing else these last 31 years, it is that I now know when to walk away and when to stay. 

I am focusing on raising our daughter and giving her an awesome start at life as much as I am able. I have started meditating have been on a silent self-improvement campaign, living mindfully, and streamlining my life. I am surrounding myself with people that are not so focused on material things, or status, or constantly dwelling in negativity or drama. Although I have always been one to take accountability or eat crow where it is due, I am furthering those initiatives by being more self-aware and preventative. I am more determined to build and maintain those relationships where it feels mutual and being the best mom, daughter, girlfriend, friend, and acquaintance I can be. I am educating myself on so many subjects right now, kickstarting a business, writing books, volunteering, and throwing myself into my new job with all of its meaningful work. I am casting out disingenuous friendships and dishonest relations and striving toward being around people who have integrity and make me want to be and do more. Selfish and selfless but nevertheless growing. But I want to be a better version of myself for my family and for myself


Throughout this process, I often return to these TEN Meditations Fit For a Phoenix:

1.  ACCEPT (AND RESPECT) WHAT WE CANNOT CHANGE
I read this article and it really resonated with me. I think much of the time we feel like we are in control but it is such an illusory idea that we have control over anything in our lives. Even our decisions, however minor, generally have a process. It can be frustrating to recognize this powerlessness within us. However, there is great courage in allowing everyone the space and respect to be their own person. There is great sacrifice in loving yourself and accepting that your power lies not in what you can control but how you navigate the sea of change. 

2.  NEVER REMAIN NEUTRAL (BUT TAKE THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE OFTEN)
The great Elie Wiesel once said: "We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere." I think it is important to have integrity and stand up for yourself (or others) when there is injustice. Remaining neutral may be peaceful but it order to help influence change in our society or improve the quality of life for others it is of paramount importance that we find our voices and be willing to intelligently and compassionately support those who need our support.  If we can take the path of least resistance, that is ideal, but in all things we should be mindful of the fact that collectively we have the opportunity to make big or small changes within our circles or communities if we are willing to try. We ourselves can be responsible for our actions or inaction— change starts with us.

3. FORGIVE WHAT WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND
We all make mistakes and misunderstandings are a direct result of not being the same person. I know I am often guilty of only seeing my perspective until I remind myself that other people process things differently and no one is wrong in that respect. Perception is reality. So I am very conscious of trying to think through the motivations of others and attempt to understand where they are coming from and why they do the things they do. I may not forget the transgressions but this has allowed me to forgive them, for the human error exists in us all. Just because I don't understand something or share the same values doesn't mean that the other person’s process is any less valuable or real. This fantastic guided meditation by Deepak Chopra is so helpful in combatting the negative and disparate feelings resulting from this confusion.  That being said, we cannot fault ourselves too harshly for not forgiving or forgetting others’ transgressions against us. You can “forgive” in your own mind to be at peace but it doesn’t mean the other person gets a free pass, either. If you have difficulty forgiving another, it is okay to talk to them about it. If they still fail to see that they might have hurt you (or refuse to hear your perspective out as your personal “truth,”) or will not take accountability for their part, you can “forgive” them in spirit and move on with life in peace.

4. TAKE COMFORT IN THE PASSING OF TIME
When my childhood pets died suddenly, I thought I would never heal. I probably cried every day for at least a year. They were with me through so much of my life and the world felt very empty and lonely without them there. The grieving process for any end can be long or short, fast or slow, and has its own way of operating. Grief doesn't have a timeline or a guidebook. Whether a physical death or a figurative one, we are reminded of our mortality, of the clock ticking, and of the feelings associated with uncertainty. We must take comfort in the fact that we are able to have time now to manifest change within ourselves and within our lives. Rather than taking a fatalistic approach to life, we should make every minute count with those we hold dear and consciously not take them for granted. We can take comfort in the fact that slow or fast, we can choose to create wonderful experiences during the passage of time that will be timeless. 

5. BE PRESENT
Along with being more self-aware, being present in our lives is of great importance. I know at times I am guilty of looking at my phone a bit too much or distracting myself from feeling or experiencing on more profound levels just to escape momentarily, but in an age where connection is fleeting we need to be more present and in touch with not only ourselves but the world around us. There are so many details we probably miss every day if we would just look up and interact with our environment and the ironies of life. 

6. REFLECT ON IMPROVEMENT
Start a bullet journal. List goals, accomplishments, and create detailed plans for improvement. Really evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on the person you want to be without the limitations of societal or personal obstacles and outline the steps to achieve your dreams, even if you don't know what you want 100%. And expect failures. Sometimes you will say something you wish you hadn’t (and later chide yourself for going backward into an old habit) or sometimes you will do things and realize in the moment that it is not serving you to do things. It’s okay. Part of the improvement process is making mistakes—it is how you move forward afterward and your actions that count.

7. BE MORE VULNERABLE
Don't let bad experiences hold you back from love or happiness. I know for me personally I accumulated bad experiences in a mental suitcase and traveled around from place to place saying,"Oh no-- I've seen this before." It wasn't until I met my current boyfriend that I realized that after years of thinking I had all these issues and hangups that made me unlovable that I actually DIDN'T have those things-- I just made poor choices in who I made myself vulnerable to and often we were incompatible in that respect. So I went into this relationship with no roadmap-- I went in sans suitcase and I found that by being MORE vulnerable, letting my guard down, and not letting my past mistakes discolor the very bright and sunny portrait that I was-- I was loved and accepted for who I am intrinsically, regardless of my faults. And now I don't feel the anxiety, fears, or insecurities that came with all of the others because I am being the best self I can be (not what someone else expected me to be) and being completely transparent. And whether it lasts forever or not, there was a great gift in being vulnerable to one another and healing those aspects of ourselves that others might have taken for granted.

8. TAKE A LEAP INTO THE UNKNOWN
Like many of you, I have fears: fears of failure, fears of financial ruin, etc. Real, legitimate, crazy making fears about not being good enough. Fears especially about parenthood and making my family proud. When we constantly compare ourselves to others and their successes, we are focusing meaningful energy on something useless and depressing. Sometimes we have to take calculated risks and take chances that we normally would talk ourselves out of. By putting the focus back on ourselves and taking INSPIRATION from the things that enrich our souls rather than being green with envy over what we feel we have yet to accomplish, we can map positive strategies to maximize our success. Be consistent. Be intentional. Rather than worry about potential failure, reorient your mindset to what success looks like and attempt to make your dreams come true. You won't know if you can succeed if you never try it. 

9.  CREATION IS CATHARTIC
There seems to be a strong correlation between wellbeing and creation for those geared toward more artistic endeavors. It is a mutually symbiotic relationship.  I feel more alive, more vibrant, and more confident when creating things than in any other aspect of my life. It is my lifeblood, how I recuperate, and is generally what keeps me in good spirits the majority of days. Having that outlet is important. Without it I used to have a tendency to retreat within myself, become depressed or anxious, and generally feel under-confident about who I was or what my capabilities were. When faced with a creative block, I have to really work hard at other areas of my life to generate the enthusiasm needed to sustain the same level of expansive optimism that I normally take for granted. The catharsis lies in the ability to channel more articulate ways of doing things, as the more you do a particular task the better you can accomplish it in the future. By creating, you maintain some semblance of control. Like other creators and artists, you can find unique ways that work for you to get the creative energy flowing. 

10. RISE ABOVE
Always try to be your best self (or strive for that— but don’t beat yourself up if you makes mistakes, too, because they are inevitable lessons. ) Always treat people as you would like to be treated (but likewise don’t let someone walk over you if they are mistreating or disrespecting you; there is a time to be silent but there is also a time to stand up for yourself. You’ll learn the difference.) Respect those in different situations from your own and if you can aid them in a better situation or mindset— do so. Don't rush to judgement— spend a lot of time sorting through the facts before making a decision about someone’s character. Remember that when you face adversity it builds your character and that you can only change/help yourself— not others. If you aren't changing then you are stagnating. Rise above your limitations. Rise from the ashes and become your higher self. 


What are some things you do regularly to improve your life?


 

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