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THE POST-PANDEMIC CULTURAL CHANGES AND THEIR IMPACT ON OUR HOMES

THE POST-PANDEMIC CULTURAL CHANGES AND THEIR IMPACT ON OUR HOMES

Our previous journal entry considered some of the more hopeful ways our culture has been changing as a result of the global pandemic and all of the events that have unfolded over the last two years. Our culture and the stories it tells us about who we are and what is of value is the water we swim in. It shapes and influences our behaviour in ways that are often outside our conscious awareness and we have to work hard to bring them into the light of consciousness in order to be able to judge whether they are serving us and working in service of the kind of world we wish to leave behind.

Being influenced by forces we are not fully aware of is less problematic when it comes to thoughts, values, and ideas that are beneficial for our own and other’s thriving. However, our culture’s narratives and values do not always serve us and the unfortunate truth is that unless we become aware that we are in fact surrounded by this water we can mistake these value systems for facts and truths making it incredibly difficult to adapt and change them.

Nevertheless, in spite of how challenging things have been and still continue to be, the last two years have also brought with them cultural shifts that are moving in the direction of more openness, flexibility, and tolerance, and that are helping to support our collective well-being. These silent forces, both the ones that are beneficial and the ones that are problematic, are shaping what we ascribe value to in our world and how we translate this value into our daily lives.

Our homes, for example, are infused with our cultural values both in the ways they are designed as well as the objects we bring into them. Whether they are filled with seasonal trends from the fast-fashion world or thoughtfully collected pieces, the choices we make not only tell the story of our values to others but more importantly the story we reinforce to ourselves. Seemingly small and insignificant choices can, over the long run, add up to have a far greater impact on our understanding of ourselves than might be apparent on first thought.

In light of the hopeful cultural changes discussed in our previous blog post I wanted to consider how some of these shifts could be impacting our homes. In what ways are these directions influencing the changes our homes are going through and will continue to go through over the coming years and in what ways are they impacting our purchasing decisions? I want to consider a few thoughts on this subject below: 

A growing recognition of home spaces as vital to our healing and regeneration – having a space we are fortunate enough to feel safe in where we are free to explore and express the many changing facets of Self is a privilege. For those of us fortunate enough to be in this position the events of the last two years have led to an increased awareness of the important roles that our home spaces play in our lives. As we attempt to recharge from the challenges we have faced, our homes can provide shelter, comfort, solace and energy. I believe that it is this recognition that is shifting our focus for our homes toward the many aspects of life that provide nourishment to our minds and bodies and is infusing our understanding of home as a conduit for these important experiences.

The specifics of what these experiences are will vary from one person to the next as well as across different life stages. But I believe that our understanding of the way our physical spaces can facilitate the thoughts, emotions, and experiences we desire will only grow and deepen over the coming years.

Through the lens of home as a valuable incubator for our emotional and mental well-being we will continue to evolve our goals and desires for our home spaces as places of nourishment for body and soul, for example:

  • The desire for a bathroom that doesn’t just meet functional needs for hygiene but instead reinforces the importance we place on moments of self-care.
  • Spaces that are thoughtfully designed to align with the ways in which we prefer to socialise at home such as a kitchen that is connected to a main socialising space so that food preparation becomes part of the socialising.
  • Paying attention to the comfort of seating and creating a relaxing atmosphere with candlelight that makes guests feel attended to and want to linger for longer.
  • An armchair reserved primarily for reading with the perfect reading light next to the fire or near the record player that encourages us to use this space within our home for recharging and self-care.

More generally, I believe the focus on comfort as one of the primary values for our home is likely to continue growing over the coming years. From the recognition of the ways that natural materials and plants can put us at ease to a preference for rounded rather than sharp edges to a continued interest in the ways that textiles, layering, and aged materials infuse spaces with a sense of relaxation, comfort will continue to dominate as one of the primary desires we have for our private spaces. 

A growing desire for our home spaces to help with the facilitation of self-expression and self-definition – our homes are the vessels for the objects that tell and reinforce the stories of who we are and who we wish to be. The increasing desire for objects and décor that are not ubiquitous but instead feel personal and meaningful will continue to grow over the coming years. As will our desire for our homes to be an additional vessel for self-expression. For most of us who are not professional architects or designers our private homes are the only spaces we will ever have the chance to design. Having the opportunity to express ourselves in physical space and being able to walk through spaces we have thoughtfully put together is a wonderfully satisfying feeling. The desire to make our home environments feel like a satisfying reflection of our life and values will continue to grow.

The increased need for spaces and objects that help us remember, grieve, and reconnect – In our previous post I touched on the enormous amount of grief that we have all had to endure over the last two years as well as the idea that our interest in spirituality tends to increase during pandemics. The losses we have had to endure, some of us of loved ones, others of less tangible things such as plans for the future or losses of dreams, have left their mark on all of us.

I believe these two factors, an increased interest in elements that loosely fall under the term ‘spiritual’ and our need to process and integrate the losses we have faced, have already begun to show up in our spaces.

I have noticed little shrines and memorials appearing in the homes of friends, family, and acquaintances whether it is something as simple as images of someone or something they have lost or a small token that honours their memory. I have also noticed an increase in the use of spiritual tools such as meditation shrines, tarot cards, crystals and other means of cultivating a connection to something greater than ourselves in more than one home.

In light of the very challenging times we have all been through I think these symbols of our desire to connect to and make sense of the mysteries beyond ourselves can serve as a great healing force. Ways of growing our spiritual connection to nature, ourselves, loves lost or something that connects us all will be a feature that many of us will continue to want to honour and integrate into our home spaces for years to come. Whether it is carving out small corners where we can take the time to connect to these feelings or adding objects or decorative items that remind us of what we have lost or what we revere, this spiritual element to the way our homes are changing as a result of the pandemic will also add up to tell a much richer more personal story about the people who reside there.

As we continue to carve out sacred and spiritual spaces and fill them with meaningful objects that connect us to the mysteries of love and loss, we can think about how we can facilitate the necessary work of grieving and reconnecting to what feels meaningful and healing in our homes.

A desire for more honesty and transparency will see us demanding more from the businesses we buy from – we will want to feel the authenticity behind the brands we engage with and to see meaningful ways in which their values align with ours. Rather than token symbols that claim virtues through badges I think we will become much more interested in the ways the people who lead businesses think and view the world. Companies promoting their values can often feel like more of a marketing or sales tactic than an authentic display of what they believe in. I will be curious to see the ways in which businesses will rise to the challenge of meeting this need in customers to know more about the businesses they support.

The question remains of how our homes will aid us in our search for meaning – Wherever people have the luxury of choice, I believe our aim will increasingly be to make things feel meaningful. Moving beyond the functional, we have begun to demand more of our homes than simply to meet basic daily needs or even just be aesthetically appealing. As we gain a deeper insight into how our spaces have the power to shape and influence our daily experiences we will continue to think of the ways that our homes can make our lives feel more meaningful, more whole. As the answer to this question is deeply personal I believe the growing interest in the emotional aspects of what home stands for will continue to captivate those of us with an interest in creating spaces.

All of the points listed so far merge into this final point in one way or another. From creating memorial spaces and shrines that allow us to connect to love’s losses or to something beyond ourselves to dedicating spaces to moments of rest and self-care to mindfully considering what we love most about socialising at home and thinking of ways to facilitate these experiences, these elements all speak of a desire for home to nourish our humanity and not just our needs for survival.

The ability to think of our homes as more than just a shelter is a deep privilege. But for those of us with the opportunity to do so, our visions of home are rapidly expanding beyond the aesthetic to capture and nourish our sense of self, sense of community and sense of our place in this world and beyond.

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