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The End of Chaos

By Maison Numen

Or how to keep your bathroom neat with Amazonian Baskets

John Ruskin once argued that our domestic interiors, however modest, should be treated like temples and churches as places of worship. The Nineteenth Century design theorist emphatically suggested that the aesthetic and material choices that go into decorating (for instance) one’s bathroom constitute a form of ethics – a “spiritual” communication intimately and subtly interwoven with practices of everyday life. Of all interior spaces, the bathroom is perhaps the most intimate and yet often-overlooked temple; a place for nourishing body and soul.

 

Following this logic and taking heed of the time and contemplation our bath chambers often permit, the standard fare of accumulated bathroom reading matter and plastic-cluttered surfaces can be seen as literal interruptions to a mindful and refreshing routine of daily physical cleansing. Infinite options for de-cluttering exist, but the standard range of bathroom storage solutions tends to comply with the conventional aesthetic of abundant white tiles, frosted glass, mirror and chrome – materials with a hard-edged sterility that seems primed to banish the spirit surrounding a natural mode of deeper relaxation and reverie.

 

Consider instead a greener dwelling place for the mind and all its daily clutter. Along the banks of the Orinoco river, handmade baskets are woven with the wherewithal to withstand tropical humidity and the strength to bear over 70 pounds of garden produce that forms the daily basis of hunter-gatherer subsistence. Made from locally-gathered Masi Masi liana vines the Yanomami “wii” or basket is decorated with red onoto berries and a burnt resin called “Warapa”, and embodies the extensive botanical knowledge that functions as both a resource-base and spiritual home for its Amazonian makers. Wii production is imbued with forms of aesthetic and ethical symbiosis that have until now largely been lost to Western interior design, which tends to shy away from the broader cosmological significance invested in everyday material furnishings in favor of less-integrated approaches to hygiene, economy and spiritual well-being. Adopted as household storage, wii baskets counter this shortcoming to solve practical problems and bear forth further fruit for contemplation. Re-purposed as enchanting household decor, the thousands-of-years old art of Yanomami basketry presents a means of pondering the combination of practical and spiritual concerns that weave domestic space through a sensitive and sustainable relationship with nature.

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