Featured Artist Spotlight: Marie Kondo (近藤 麻理恵)
By Skywing Knights // January 28, 2021
My apologies that this series has been on a bit of a hiatus for awhile. You’d think that quarantine would provide me more time to write, not less. The irony of it all is that I feel quarantine to be very draining! It drains us all emotionally, which in turn drains us physically. But it’s a new year and with that, there are new beginnings to be had. So for the month of January 2021, I wanted to feature Marie Kondo as our featured artist!
Born in Tokyo, Japan, Marie Kondo is a professional organizing consultant, sometimes known as “KonMari”. With 4 books under her belt, with most translated into 30+ languages, Marie specializes in turning places of clutter into tidy spaces. Her most popular book is titled “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”.
While Kondo-san is actually pretty well known, I don’t know if many people would think of her as an “artist” per say. But I strongly disagree with that notion! It truly is an artistic ability to take one state of things and turn it into another, particularly one much more pleasing to the soul. Marie’s interest in tidying up started at a young age. She would often volunteer to clean and tidy her class’ homerooms. Additionally, for around 5 years, Marie worked as a Shrine Maiden at a Shinto Shrine. This would later influence her tidying methodology in years to come.
In college at the age of 19, she began her own tidying consultation and has since developed what is called the “KonMari Method” of cleaning. This method has helped millions of people around the world find peace within their homes with things that “spark joy” (in Japanese ときめき pronounced “tokimeku”) after purging those that do not.
The basics of her method involve:
- Committing oneself to tidying up.
- Imagining one’s ideal lifestyle.
- Discarding items that do not spark joy first.
- Tidying up by category, not via location.
- Following the correct order of categories.
- And asking oneself if things “spark joy”.
According to the KonMari method, the best order of categories to tackle is:
- 小物 or “Komono” (Miscellaneous Items – Kitchen, General, Kids, Office, Garage, Bathroom, etc.)
- Sentimental Items
Once one decides what items to keep, the next step is to find homes for them. And Marie has plenty of tips for finding those homes! From her Hikidashi (引き出し) boxes (drawer boxes) to her folding methods, Marie Kondo makes sure to impart ways to keep homes feeling less like the walls are closing in and more like everything has a place. And for those items one finds that don’t spark joy, Marie advises that owners thank the items each individually before donating them. KonMari ultimately though is not about minimalism, but instead about surrounding oneself with only objects one loves.
As she says on her website, “It’s about choosing joy.”
Since becoming a tidying consultant, Marie has traveled around the world speaking at lectures and helping others in creating happy, tidy homes with things that spark joy. As demand for Marie’s consultations have grown, she has gone on to train 200+ consultants around the world, who are available for hire and who use the KonMari method.
Additionally, Marie-san has been featured in numerous magazines, newspapers, and prime time features. She even was on her own TV Show produced by Netflix called “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”. Recently, she partnered with the Container Store to release a line of tools to help consumers keep tidy homes. Check out some of the results people have had using the KonMari method below!
If you haven’t had the chance to learn more about Marie Kondo and her methodology, check her out on her website and social media accounts!
While some people hear Marie-san’s name and think of little memes such as “this does not spark joy” or “I love mess”, I believe what Marie does is something much greater than simple entertainment via books or TV shows. Marie is able to relieve a particular type of stress in the lives she touches with this art form. How? By focusing on creating an environment that is ‘pure’ with ‘joy’.
I personally suffer from anxiety, which makes it difficult for me to ‘clean house’. Sadly, hoarding is a mental condition that has laid hold on some of the members of both sides of my family. It worries me and makes me incredibly aware of when a place gets ‘too messy’. At the same time, I tend to not want to throw away things, particularly if they were gifts or unused or are still in good condition, as I feel guilty for not properly caring for them or using them. It lands me between a rock and a hard place, desperate to find a balance that doesn’t require me to completely clean house, but also allows me a ‘good’ place in which to live.
So recently, I decided to try at least a little of Marie-san’s method. I took a pile of clothes and asked “Does this spark joy?” One by one, I slowly divided out the clothes. And as I slowly realized which things did not spark joy, I did as she suggested. I thanked the items, which oddly allowed for a peace to come over me. It was as though thanking the items allowed me to part with them on good terms. As a result, my anxiety was nearly non-existent in comparison to how I had been before whenever I had looked at that pile of clothing.
And it’s not just me that Marie has been able to help with her skills. She’s helped thousands upon thousands of people who have felt emotionally overwhelmed by the sheer amount of mess within their homes or living spaces. And after, she leaves them not just with a clean space, but a physically ‘pure’ space. In other words, one where the weight of objects is no longer felt as a burden, but as joyful energy.
Marie-san has said of the process of tidying, “The moment you start tidying, you’ll realize your dream of living in a place that sparks joy. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most magical.”
And certainly anything that is magical is indeed art. KonMari’s art of creating a ‘pure’, tidy space is one focused on many truths that artists can benefit from. Most notably, on remembering to be in spaces where your soul can thrive (which is so important to creative spirits!).
So remember all, be where your art can thrive. Be where you can thrive. Love yourself and your life.
Till next time,