In Fumio Saki’s book Goodbye, Things: On Minimalist living the author asks, “Is there happiness in having less?”. Saki owns only “three shirts, four pairs of trousers, four pairs of socks and not much else”. This case might be seen as an extreme lifestyle choice, but living minimally can be a practical decision too. “Quite a few homes in London are quite compact and a lot of people don’t have space or gardens, so by necessity you have to be more space efficient and have less stuff,” says Yen-Yen.
She picked out the British furniture brand Vitsœ, known for its modular shelving system, which has the ethos of encouraging customers to only buy what they need, and Yen-Yen also credits Jasper Morrison’s small shop adjoining his East London studio as the ideal place to find timeless, classic and utilitarian wares, such as tableware and glassware.
While our lifestyles feel hectic because of technology, home automation systems like Alexa or Siri can free up time, leaving us space to focus on the things that we value. For others it’s the portability of devices that’s changing how we live at home – allowing for versatility and mobility from room-to-room.
It’s a rechargeable, USB powered lantern designed by Spanish brand Marset that has changed the way Yen-Yen lives most recently. The lightweight ‘Follow Me’ lantern with a curved handle was a gift from her business partner and gives off a warm, dim light suitable for bringing some calm into any environment. “I thought I would just take it out on the balcony, but I actually ended up carrying it around the house – for dimmer light at dinner or in the bathroom,” says Yen-Yen – who has recently rediscovered her bathroom as a retreat space for moments of tranquility and solitude.
Yen-Yen also uses portable, Bluetooth connected speakers operated from a phone or computer across her home, and our smart phone devices have become remote controls for our lives. From apps that control our heating, warming the house up before we get home, to alarm clocks that mimic sunrise and provide us with the morning’s news.
Ironically tech is saving us from tech too, with apps that help us stop the mindless finger- scrolling on Instagram or checking work emails after hours. ‘On trees’ gets you to put your phone down by planting real trees as an incentive to switch off, and meditation companions like ‘Headspace’, ‘Calm’ and Buddhify offer guided meditations to focus your attention on the present.