Did you know that 9 million tons of furniture and 251 million tons of construction waste goes to landfills every year in America?
It seems we live in a throwaway culture. Fashion is throwaway. Furniture is throwaway. Construction is throwaway. Electronics are throwaway. Even, some, treat people as throwaway.
I don't like it.
I have been talking about minimalism, and one the tenants I mentioned was buying less but the best of what you can afford. I believe this is true for fashion, furniture, art, cars - you name it.
Fashion icon and haute couture designer, Jean Paul Gaultier said, “There are labels that do inexpensive clothes very well, like Zara, H&M, Uniqlo. People can dress well for not too much money,” Gaultier told Associated Press’s Thomas Adamson. “So why go and buy expensive clothes?”
He has chosen to only focus on the haute couture client, which is what he has been doing since 1997.
The same reason I choose to focus on high-end interior design. If you want inexpensive home furniture, lacking in quality and craftsmanship, that looks good for a while, and then you throw it away, there are plenty of designers that would be more than happy to work with you.
I, on the other hand, have always had an eye for quality and craftsmanship that withstands the test of time, trends, and style.
As a child, I remember my parents taking me to the department stores to go shopping. This was before I knew who these labels were. I could walk over to a rack of clothes, select exactly what I wanted. Some of the time, it was a more expensive item, but I knew I would get longer wear out of it.
In the early 90s, there was a pair of Cole Haan shoes, that I desperately wanted. I showed them to my parents and told them hold badly I wanted them. Well, I got them - sort of. My parents found ones that looked similar, but the quality was inferior and they were falling apart within months.
Over time, my eye for quality and craftsmanship has sharpened - even more. The events of my childhood set up a system of beliefs, that I still hold, today. I would rather save my money to get exactly what I want, take the vacation I really want, have the car I want, or have the experiences I want. Rather than, me just settling for something less than I desire and accepting it as okay.
I never entered into interior design to sell people products. For me, I wanted to enhance humanity through interior design and decorating. I wanted to elevate people's lives.
Along the way, I have educated myself about construction, remodeling, furnishings, and the value and quality they can add to your life.
In the past, I have had clients say to me, "Oh, let's just buy a cheap chair. When it falls apart, we can buy another cheap one."
To me, this logic doesn't make sense. Why would you spend money twice, when you could spend the same amount of money and buy something that is going to last?
The other one that bewilders me is from my past, "We don't want to spend a lot of money on the furniture. We are rough on it. We want something that if it gets damaged or broken we can just throw it away and get a new one."
Why wouldn't you take care of your furniture to ensure that is lasts you longer, and you are not throwing your money away?
Yes, I will admit, the upfront cost to buy furniture of quality is more, but you have to look at it as an investment and not as something disposable. Let's do the math. If you purchase a $10,000.00 sofa and you have it for five years, that is $2,000.00 per year. If that sofa is of quality, it can be reupholstered for a fraction of the cost it would be to buy a new one. Perhaps you have chosen to go with the less expensive option, many of the frames of these pieces are not made with quality hardwoods, so there is not a reupholstery option. The only options are to throw it away or donate it.
When you purchase less but of better quality, it really does simplify your life.
While to you, at a glimpse, the comparison between the more expensive option and the less expensive option aesthetically may not seem all that different.
It is what is on the inside that matters most.