Thursday, July 8th, 2010
So this weekend I was re-reading a favorite book for bookgroup, “Cooking for Mr. Latte” by Amanda Hesser. Amanda was a food writer for the NY Times for years, and the book chronicles her adventures in cooking, eating and relationships. Thank goodness she includes many of the recipes she describes at the end of each chapter or I would be a very hungry and frustrated reader!
What I love about this book is that all the recipes have a story behind them, which I think is true of some of the best recipes. Like the lemon bars my family makes that come from a cookbook my brother’s middle school put together of each kid’s favorite recipe. Fred Natkins will forever live on in our lives for his contribution of his mom’s lemon bar recipe. We never refer to them as simply Lemon Bars. Oh no, they are Fred Natkin’s Lemon Bars. I’m sure you all have similar stories about favorite dishes. And you remember who you served them to and how they fed the soul and stomach (if done right).
So what does that have to do with design? Well, it got me thinking about shared experiences, travel, and the objects we pick up along the way. When I travel I prefer to buy an interesting object for my home that I can look at and remember the trip. I’m not talking about “insert destination here” sweatshirts, spoons, shot glasses or fridge magnets. Though if that’s your thing, enjoy!
No I’m talking about that wall hanging I found in the little shop in the Gion district of Kyoto that has a giesha and a temple on it. And after I bought it we passed two maiko, apprentice gieshas, on the street.
Seeing the object pulls you right back into a moment, a story, a feeling. Or the 1890s German scientific print of different types of mushrooms I found in a vintage shop in Austin, Texas, that fits in perfectly on the wall of mushroom photos in my living room.
The mushroom photos always elicit lots of questions from visitors. It gives us the chance to tell them about our love of hiking and mushroom hunting, where I was inspired by the variety of mushrooms and colors and textures in the woods. Then we can show them our bags of dehydrated mushrooms as proof that I’m not just making this up.
The layout with different size and shape frames in an asymmetrical arrangement is more dynamic and allows us to add to the collection easily over the years. In fact, we’ll probably change out the mushroom photos for pictures from our trip to Japan next. That will provide new stories to tell, and different memories to enjoy. And when we tire of those photos, we will have other photos from other adventures with which we can replace them.
I think using objects and photos from your travels and adventures (even if they are local) is one of the best ways to ensure that your home is a reflection of you and your life. Grandma’s hope chest or the lamp from your childhood bedroom can also serve as mementos (not to be confused with Mentos, the freshmaker).
What objects do you have that have special meaning and history behind them? Where did you find them or who passed them down to you? Do they have pride of place in your home or are they mixed in and require exploration to notice?