Provenance over perfection: the anti-trend!

12/07/2017 09:42:00 am HELEN STILES 0 Comments

You know when you hear something and wish you'd thought it up yourself? Well that's what I thought when I read this the other day: provenance over perfection. I can't for the life of me remember where I read it (or even IF I read it, I could well have heard it on the radio or seen it on TV) but it sums up very neatly what I think we should all bear in mind when designing interiors.

I love the sentiment of 'provenance over perfection,' the idea that where something has come from and how it was made is more important than whether it looks immaculate. The popularity of artisanal goods is a welcome reaction to the quick-fix, throw-away mentality that's been prevalent for too long. Slow-food, slow-living and even slow-fashion are gaining ground, so it's only logical that this attitude is seeping into our homes too. More and more people want to buy things that have a meaning and that will stay with them.

Handmade rattan vases, vintage 70s lava-glaze lamp and handwoven hemp cushions. Photo: Carole Poirot


But at the same time, it's easy to get swept up in the latest trends spotted on instagram or pinterest and to end up buying things that you hate a month later. So my advice is to stay true to what you love and buy to last. That's not to say that everything you buy for your home has to be expensive either; if you pick things that are well designed and that you truly love, then they will last you well past next season.

Here are my 3 tips for putting provenance over perfection:

1. BUY VINTAGE: whether it's furniture, art, lighting or rugs, if you buy vintage, you're getting a little piece of history AND getting something that already exists in the world, rather than adding to a mountain of future landfill. (Plus, you're getting something you're unlikely to find in your mate's house the next time you visit.) eBay and gumtree can often turn up affordable gems if you hunt hard enough.

2. BUY HANDMADE: Any handmade accessories are liable to contain imperfections – but that is part of their beauty, and I love to see the signs of a maker rather than a machine. Our frazada blankets, for example, support Andean women to earn an income and help to keep an ancient craft alive. Again, you're getting something unique too.

3. BUY WELL-DESIGNED: Good design lasts and it doesn't have to be expensive. Look at Ikea's Sinnerlig collaboration with Ilse Crawford, or their Aina pure linen (which I've used for many a curtain – brilliant for just £7 a metre!) When you buy pieces that have been well-designed, not thrown together on a production line to meet the latest trend, they will function and look good for far longer.

Sinnerlig ceiling light, frazada blanket and repurposed Ikea sideboard in my daughter's room. Photo: Carole Poirot

I love to work with local craftspeople wherever possible, those small businesses working so hard to make things that are beautiful and crafted. I set up Hide & Seek to source accessories that have a story. Cowhide rugs from grass-fed cows in Argentina; mud-cloth cushions handwoven in Mali; Moroccan rugs made from pure, unbleached wool in the way they've been made for centuries! These are the things that will give your home a quick lift, but stay with you for years and years because they are well-made, from natural materials and are beautiful in their own right (not just on-trend right now).

What's more, a room where everything is perfect never feels perfect to me. A little imperfection and history makes all the difference. Right, lecture over...here are a few of my favourite items with provenance available on the shop now:

From left to right: Vintage boucherouite rug; Handmade frazada blanket; Organic British sheepskin; tarnished brass tray and pots by British designer, Daniel Schofield. 

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