In around March this year I started researching a topic about the things that help or prevent us from feeling at home.
The main research question was, how might we feel more at home? It’s composed of a very long list of elements. Rooted in the physical, mental, social and so on, but specifically looking at the role that objects play in forming new behaviors and rituals.
For example, I’ve had a lengthy amount of time to study the role of a coffee cup in our lives. A coffee cup is a nice object. It might have personal or historical significance. A memory of where it was purchased or who gave it to us. Perhaps there’s a good joke printed on the side that’s still funny even after years of use. It might also have cultural significance. Something to be collected and valued over time. What makes a coffee cup a good object is the personal connection and use of it. The behaviour of the object is a social vessel from which it plays different roles in our lives.
What is the role of personal care to help us feel more at home?
In my interviews with the Circulove team, we discussed quite a bit about why they should create another company that makes products for personal care. There’s a lot happening within this area. Where is the need for creating something that’s new? The team described their work analyzing the complexity in personal care. There’s often so much that someone needs to know, choose from and perform in a certain way. These are all parts of a ritual and regime for some companies and their products which is completely fine, but the team asked themselves; could there be another approach to this? The team described their approach as taking a Nordic point of view based on their own observations of the struggles people have with the complexity of personal care.
Design from Nordic countries is based on personalizing and developing rituals over and over again until they’re incredibly refined. These are countries where people are used to living with a sparse harvesting period. It’s a contradictory celebration of saving and refining and then rejoicing every year when the seasons change which is deep within the Nordic cultures. It’s then natural that any product coming from a Nordic based company is both refined as well as expressive in its own way and based on using local characteristics as a way of feeling more at home.
For the members of the team, being brought up in Finland and Sweden meant learning about the importance of designed objects in our daily lives. Not only the way they look, but the behaviors and rituals behind the objects. Circulove describes their approach as a simplified way of thinking about skincare routines for those who want to reduce complexity. Designing personal care with a few key elements that can be adapted to become personal over time.
Feeling at home in a Nordic context has a degree of simplicity to it, but it’s not only about simplicity. There are plenty of Nordic companies who are extremely expressive, probably for precisely the reason that they’ve grown up with dramatic seasonal changes. What Nordic companies often have in common is there’s a shared careful examination of the role that objects have within a person’s life. Objects need to serve a purpose, for everyone, and the person decides the use. Ultimately helping the people feel more at home.