A love of austerity – building happiness through less

This isn’t about politics. Though it might as well be. It’s about fountain pens. And right angles. 

Like many, I’m riven by conflicts. From the significant, to the inconsequential. Most of the time – somewhere in between – the stuff that occupies me feels significant enough to pay attention to. In this case, it’s about the place I live. My house. My home. The family home. The people in it.

And, most if all, how we use it. I’m trying not to say “the space” like the architect or interior designer I’m not, but I guess as we crave our own space we must recognize the need for others to identify their own. In this case, I’m thinking about nothing more than a single storey extension to a single storey building. 

But in that there’s a conflict: cash in the bank vs what we’ll need to borrow. Today’s income vs tomorrow’s outgoings. Today’s space vs tomorrow’s roaming. And who lives here. Who uses it and how. These are normal questions, and it’s the inevitable conflict within me and within my other half that’s important. More important still is the conflict between us.

The buildings we live in are, contrary to the TV soul-destroyers, not merely investments, not “properties”. They’re not just Corbusian machines either. They are places for people to live well. Changing them means we want to live beyond the way we do today. Not for the acquisition of kerbside status, but for happiness. 

And so we have to consider austerity to make ourselves happy. This isn’t just financial (since few have no concerns over such prosaic matters), but of paring back to the essence of what we want to achieve. From that, we build our individual and collective personalities into the structure. For me, creating that soul means stripping back.

It’s fashionable right now, but my love of the simplicity of early and mid-century modernism remains. The wilful drawing back of the reality to the essence of living well. I see right angles. I see light. I feel no weight. 

And fountain pens? Why, this of course, and barely a right angle in sight:



(copyright Lamy)