Is Design a Spiritual Experience? Part I
Recently, I was listening to an Oprah interview with Nate Burkus on the radio. Oprah asked, “Nate, is design a spiritual experience for you?” I quickly turned off the radio because the question hit me in such a profound way that I wanted to answer this question for myself and I didn’t want any outside influences, not even from the great Nate!
For weeks I have pondered this question because when I first began my design career as an adult, I must honestly say, I felt “called” to do so, just as a minister feels called to perform his work. It was a deeply moving moment in my life and I was eager to fulfill my obligation. I also felt it was my duty to become the best possible designer I could be. This became my life’s work and my life’s mission.
But still, the question puzzled me and it has lingered. How could something so frivolous and “material” actually be spiritual? And, if I “was called” how could it be to perform work that seems so materialistic? On a daily basis, I witness all sorts of behaviors that are not necessarily “holy”. These behaviors occur just so people can be surrounded by beauty in their homes. I have seen people go into debt just to have these “things” and I have witnessed and refereed many a fight between husband and wife so that their home could be beautiful. Manipulation, control issues, fighting, anger, sorrow, sadness and defeat are all behaviors I witness often. With these negative behaviors, I asked myself again, how can this work be spiritual and if it is not, then why was I chosen to do it?
One day a client said to me, “Please don’t proceed with this room. It’s just too nice and I feel too pretentious. I feel that while I can afford it that others will perceive me to be showing off…”