26 October 2013

rethinking design: home is where the heart is

Have you seen the thought-provoking and heart-ripping TED talk by photographer Iwan Baan yet? If not, you should. It celebrates "humanity's ability to survive and make a home - anywhere." 

In Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, nearly 70 percent of the population lives in slums.
It comes at a time when I'm downsizing to a small condo in an effort to live more simply and sustainably, as I mused about at the beginning of the year in this post. Instead of feeling cramped and less 'worthy' I feel gratitude and peace at being able to carve out a small and lovely space that I can make my own. Having less stuff and a smaller financial commitment is a stress relief. And really, 700 square feet of space is all I need so why take up more?

A house is a structure that provides shelter. A home is a space that provides emotional support and safety from the outside world.  Sometimes us single folks can feel a little lonely when we hear over and over that "home is where your loved ones are." Sometimes we don't have the luxury of living with others, or even living in the same city or country as loved ones. So I cling to the concept of making your home a refuge with design and things that you love and cherish. And those things will be different for everyone. It's not about copying the trends in magazines or buying modern furniture. It's about what makes you feel good when you walk in the door. 

 The photos by Baan prove that this feeling of making wherever you are your 'home' is a universal feeling. They show that even in structures that can't really be called houses, people make lovely homes. It's humbling and inspiring. 

An unfinished office tower in Caracas where families have moved in and communities have developed.
One of the homes in the unfinished tower.
A community in Cairo, Egypt where garbage collecting and recycling is the main source of income.
An elaborate home inside one of the buildings in that community. 
An underground cave home in China. An estimated 40 million people still live in sunken courtyard houses which sit seven meters below ground.
Hope you go and check out the video. All images by Iwan Baan via TED


  1. Thanks for sharing this! I also live in Hamilton, Ontario... and have been following your blog with interest... knowing you've moved to my city! I really appreciated the TEDtalk. But it bothered me that the audience laughed at the beauty and seriousness of these people's lives. I hope they realise that they are mocking someone else.

    1. Thanks Helen, and nice to 'meet' a fellow Hamiltonian! The laughing did bother me as well - I was practically in tears and amazement at the same time. Perhaps nervous laughter was taking the place of raw emotions? Thanks for following the blog!

  2. Thanks for sharing this. Your article is very inspiring.

    1. Thanks Vidya. Making the most of the space you carve out for yourself in the world is important. Glad you enjoyed.


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