Next month, in April, we'll be celebrating the tenth anniversary of the founding of Apartment Therapy, so it seems like a good time to put down on paper not only what has happened over the last ten years, but also what we’re working on now.
The story is a little bit about me personally, but mostly it's about how this company has grown. There is much to it that I hope you will find familiar, useful and inspiring. And, if you are a regular reader of Apartment Therapy, you may also find that it has become a part of your own story. I certainly hope so. During my last book tour, I decided that showing up and signing books was not enough, so I put together this presentation on the fly. There are ten parts to it, far too much for one blog post, so I'm going to write it as a serial in ten chapters. As I add a chapter, I will be sure to link it to all the rest, so that you will never lose your way.
1. I *Heart* Terence Conran
Having a warm home that looks good and works well, and that you and your family and friends enjoy must be one of the most worthwhile things in life; and to help you achieve it is the object of this book.The quote above could easily have been written for my last book on small homes, and I wish I’d penned it, but I didn’t. Instead, it was written over 35 years ago by a man who taught an entire generation (particularly in Europe) to think about their homes as a central part of their lives and not just a place to “decorate” but as a place to LIVE, enjoy and make better. Terence Conran’s “The House Book” (1977) was his first book and set a standard for thinking about home design that he was to build on over the course of his life, right up to the current day.
A brick of a book at almost 450 pages, it didn’t attempt to dictate any one style, but to survey the landscape of homes – both modern and traditional - and to teach and instruct and help people choose and develop their own style.
My favorite pictures are the ones with people in them – many of which are in the chapter on “eating rooms.” Unlike typical shelter photographs where people are mysteriously absent and nothing looks like it has ever been out of place, these rooms are personal, imperfect and convey the vibrancy of the lives within them.
People look happy.
There is an unmistakable message that caring for the home and good design are responsible for all these happy scenes. Most of the rooms are also modest and homey, giving the book a vibe that is 100% unstuffy and totally accessible.
Unlike most shelter magazines and books, Conran wanted you to feel like you could do this yourself, and he would help you. Nothing was off limits. Whatever your budget, he could teach you about style and how things work so that you could make better decisions, shop smarter and ultimately have a home that you loved and really felt like home.
All of this was not just merely to impress the neighbors. Having a good home was more than skin deep; it was “one of the most worthwhile things in life”- the foundation of a good life.
This is exactly the sort of thing we are in need of now. Since 2001 and more so now, mid/post recession, I’m preoccupied with how good homes support good lives, and how much we can learn and share in the process.
Over his lifetime, Terence Conran has designed interiors and furnishings, been a huge retailer, run restaurants, and published over thirty books on every aspect of the home and design. Within all of this work, he has never looked to distill some perfection, but to document his generation’s evolution from year to year and help people do better through the lens of design.
It is not about stuff, it is about what you do with it that counts, and the home is where it all begins.
(images: The House Book, cover, pages 29, 213)