A Home For All with Selfridges
We asked writer Hugo MacDonald to contextualise our immersive concept space ‘A Home for All’ (located at Selfridges, March – June 2017), which explores the notion of home as the ultimate expression of self. What makes a house a home?
Home is more than the roof over our heads, the walls that surround us and the furniture or objects we use that connect us to our daily lives. Home is a feeling. It is primal and deeply personal. It is a sense of sanctuary, safety and security. Home is a mindset in which we are free to be ourselves. It provides us with a source of empowerment that is both vital and revitalising.
Home is not a construct but an essential truth. We can build houses that suggest who we would like to be and how we would like others to see us, but we will not feel at home in them unless they are a genuine expression of ourselves. In our complicated world today, discovering the essence of home and what it means to us individually is more difficult and yet more important than ever.
A Home For All is an immersive installation by The New Craftsmen that seeks to explore and discover what the feeling of home might be. It is a place to disconnect from the din of daily life and reconnect to ourselves in a quieter context. Familiar in feeling more than aesthetic, it is a sensory journey that encourages thoughts and rituals in four atmospheric environments: rest, gather, play and cleanse. Welcome home.
Rest is intended to slow us down and ground us in the present. It is a calm and soothing experience, rooted in nature. A large rush stack by basket maker Felicity Irons sets the scene with a subtle earthy fragrance that fills the space. Traditionally dyed quilts using natural plant dyes by Lola Lely Studio can be filled with rush and taken to a raised platform for a spell of rest and reflection. Soft birdsong and a dappled light projection give the impression of dawn breaking through a forest glade. The rustle of rush against skin conjures up the feeling of running one’s hand through a corn field in late summer. These are sensations to feed the imagination in a state of repose, suspended somewhere between dreaming and being awake.
What does home feel like when you let yourself drift at rest?
Gather is the ritualistic kitchen at the heart of the home. It is anchored by a large hearth and at a long table with benches on either side. The space is for people to gather together, slow down and use their hands. At times it is hosted by makers from The New Craftsmen community, engaging guests in a range of manual activities. On other occasions Susie Webb, on of the “Anthropologists of Eating”, encourages guests to join her at the table in a series of culinary preparation tasks, such as potato peeling, pea-podding and spice grinding. On Thursdays more involved, bookable classes like sourdough bread-making, preserving and pickling will take place. The experience here is one of interaction and connection through common, communal activities related to providing food. It is a place that stimulates the hands and mind together in ritual, practising tasks that induce a state of flow.
What does home feel like when you feed your mind, body and soul?
Play is a workshop for creative activities where guests learn new skills. Each week a different maker will host events relating to their area of expertise, including weaving with the Bristol Weaving Mill, hand dying with Lola Lely Studio and clay work with Matthew Raw. The environment is one of uninhibited fun and experimentation, with the communal objective of making things together that inspire the imagination. The aim is to encourage people to be playful, to tap into their imagination and explore their personal expression in an unrestrained context, discovering simple techniques that provide tools for exploring the maker in each of us. It is somewhere to feel motivated by the spirit of learning and invigorated by the practise of making in a playful context.
What does home feel like when you master the art of self-expression?
Cleanse is a symbolic, spiritual area for contemplation. The ritual of washing extends beyond cleaning the body with spiritual associations of cleansing the soul too, in turn allowing it to flourish. Surrounded by willow branches, guests arrive before four totems that each signify a different intention: nature, gather, pause and play. They are invited to fill a small pan with water from a standing copper pipe and douse the totem that chimes with their chosen intent. The simple act represents a commitment to embrace this element in your home and life. This is a hallowed space with an elemental quality intended to help guests reflect and consider what they would like to nurture in their own home.
What element of home requires focus?