The Best Fresh Start… Vipassana & Design

I did it again. For the fourth time, I spent the last ten days in a silent retreat, practicing meditation up in cold, snowy Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. Every year I start out thinking that ten days is WAY too long to be doing this, that I'm no good at it and that I'll certainly never do it again. And then everything slowly changes.

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This was the front of the driveway yesterday morning as I headed back to NYC.

As you actually learn to meditate, an equanimity settles in that is rare and lasting, and makes your time in this isolation so precious that you have mixed feelings about leaving at the end.

While it may seem strangely random to be reading about a meditation retreat on a design blog, I can assure you that the experience is so profound and so deeply related to design that I am amazed every time and can't believe my good fortune to have stuck it out. The inner stillness that you achieve and the realization of how attached to things we are (oh, misery!), leads you to a whole new perspective on your inner and outer life. It is, quite frankly, the absolute best way I know of to greet the new year.

It's a mental interior redesign of the first degree. And you fall in love with the stark interiors.

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The main men's residence.

This is what I wrote last year, and I can't say it any better:

Which is where it interconnects with Apartment Therapy and interior design. Life has its own design and when you strip away all the clutter and the jabber and the static, you begin to see things just as they are and lose your craving for things that used to cause you pain or stress. Things get simpler and more beautiful as well.

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One of the outdoor walkways to the main meditation hall. This is temporary, but quite lovely in it's own way.

Here are some pictures that I took at the center before leaving (all taken on an iPhone, so not high quality). You will see that the interior is NOT too fancy, but it's extremely well cared for and clean. These things are the basic building blocks of any great interior, but examples like this show it so starkly.

Enjoy and Happy New Year! All info and links are below.

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My little room early in the morning. Apologies for my unmade bed. I was just getting up.
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The door out of my room, with my jacket and scarf ready to go.
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I loved these dark earthy red concrete floors in the main building that are heated radiantly.

GOOD LINKS

>> Vipassana Meditation Site

>> Apartment Therapy on… Vipassana, Corelle & Design

>> The Most Famous Plastic Chair: The Monobloc

FROM LAST YEAR

Here are a few items I fell in love with during the course, the plates and cups. Used every day for many years, they are super strong, light and retain their white luminous quality. The cup is old Corning and can be found at places like eBay and Etsy, while the plates and bowls are Corelle, made of laminated tempered glass. While they are admittedly spartan, I consider them design classics (are they in MoMA's design collection? I can't remember...) and worthy of consideration in any design-o-phile's home.

>> Corelle.com
>> Corelle @ Wikipedia

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.