Where You Work Matters

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. By Marie Kondo. (Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2014. 224 pp.)


People might not realize that clutter takes up mental space and causes subconscious burden. Even though you are not consciously paying attention to the big pile of clothes on your bed, it is always in your mind until it is taken care of. Having your mess occupying your mind will held you back from getting important things done such as homework and projects. Marie Kondo, a Japanese cleaning consultant, shares her systematic and psychological approach into tidying up a space with the book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. It is the most influential book in decluttering worldwide. This pocket-sized book does not only introduce a step-by-step method on how to decide what to keep and how to organize but it also explains how tidying could boost efficiency and effectiveness in life.

Whether it is your living space or your work space, cleaning up and keeping everything organized is hard to do. It is especially difficult for students and workers to keep their area organized due to the load of work they have on their plate. Marie Kondo gives a refreshing look at how to tidy up a space, which she calls the KonMari method. KonMari method is Kondo’s philosophy on defining the relationship between the owner and his/her belonging, keeping what makes you happy and throwing away unneeded possessions. In this process the readers are challenged to take a moment and think about what makes them happy. Kondo simply phrases this as what ‘sparks joy.’ Whatever doesn’t immediately fall in that category gets discarded. At the end of the discard process, she instructs her clients to give thanks and wish the discarded items farewell. This approach helps people to be more mindful in cleaning and appreciate their belongings. It also strengthens their decision-making skills for the more difficult situation.

Even though this book focuses more on the art of tidying, Kondo mentions that her clients’ lives improve after they’ve followed her methods. Keeping everything in order is not just good for your home but also for your mindset. On some people, clutter may help the creative mind create, but it isn’t necessarily helpful for focus and productivity. Clutter causes disorder in your mind by making it harder to focus. It lowers people’s ability to process information and makes them feel chaotic and restless. From the unwashed dishes on your desk to the pile of books on the floor, these items distract people and hold them back from getting important matters done. However once they’ve cleared out the clutter, they will be able to free up mental processing space to other tasks. One of Kondo’s close friends was able to realize her true passions through discarding her book collection. Kondo points out that her clients “set up their own companies, others change jobs, and others take more interest in their current profession” (p. 176). After the discard process, her friend found herself solely attached to her social welfare books. She then studied and prepared to start her own child care company after quitting her job. Kondo’s friend now enjoys each day the fullest as she works in her own company. People’s awareness of what they truly like to do increases as a result of putting their house in order.

Kondo states that “Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination” (p. 21). Anyone who has encountered Kondo, the decluttering guru, knows that space affects the body. The place where people work has enormous impact on how they work. Cleaning involves energetic movement, which would naturally contribute to a more optimistic and healthy worker. Healthy workers are more motivated to work harder. With a cheerful disposition, they get more inspired in doing more and better. Also, people tends to have less worries when the space is clean. They are free for a much more creative performance.For most people, their primary work is housed within their laptops and KonMari method and principles also works on keeping digital files in order. Organizing and discarding files in the hard drive affects productivity at work. Knowing where everything is located saves people’s time on searching for specific files. Having files organized also lessens stress level. It prevents people getting overwhelmed with the files and it helps laptops to run faster. No more panicking on not finding the file that is needed for the project and no more waiting for a long time for a software to process. Decluttering your laptop simply improves both the laptops and people’s performance.

The KonMari method is simple and easy to follow yet it’s effectiveness depends on the mindset of the reader. Be warned, it is stated in the book that “people cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking” (p. 15). It can take a while for these things to become a habit but fear not, start on getting your surroundings in order and the rest is sure to follow.

Although Kondo’s book is written not specifically for the design world, anyone in the art firm could benefit by grasping the psychological ideas behind the process. For students, professional, parents, and even designers, this book has shown a whole new side of the importance of having a clear space. It provides an in-depth look at the positive effects, such as efficiency and effectiveness, of having a clear space.


Theo van Doesburg

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Born in August 1883, Dutch artist Theo van Doesburg, is the founder of the artistic movement called De Stijl. It is the process of simplifying the visual composition into a pure abstraction using geometric shapes. He was an artist with a wide range of talents; he is a painter, an architect, a designer, a poet, and an art theorist. Piet Modrian and Wassily Kandinsky inspired van Doesburg to paint geometric abstractions of subjects based on nature. His paintings are simplistic consisting of plain vertical and horizontal shapes and primary colors. From painting, he began to focus on the promotion of De Stijl movement and formed a group of artists in Germany and France. In reaction to his unreciprocated hope of joining the faculty of the Bauhaus art school, he established his own studio directly next to the Bauhaus and attracted many students to join the development of his ideas based on Constructivism, Dadaism, and De Stijl.

Two popular early abstraction works from van Doesburg are the paintings Dancers and Composition VIII (The Cow). Dancers is an abstract oil painting in the style of Constructivism. The painting consists of neutral-colored geometric shapes assembled to form two human figures. The figures represent the Hindu deity, Krishna, who is seen dancing while playing a flute. Van Doesburg created this work to express spiritual perspectives. Another work where he incorporated figure study is the painting Composition VIII, also called The Cow. Van Doesburg used figurative sketches to analyze the form of a cow and slowly create a simplified composition to justify his practice, De Stijl. The cow figure is transformed into a group of colorful, flat rectangles and squares placed in the center of a plain white canvas.


Theo_van_Doesburg_Dancers_1916.jpgDancers. c. 1916

tumblr_nb2v0m8Ypt1r1jmv0o1_1280.pngComposition VIII (The Cow). c. 1918

f63727ac827d85b072b88145435e2474.jpgA series of figurative sketches and transformation of the cow figure. c. 1918

Van Doesburg has been influential in different fields of contemporary art. He has a big impact in architecture. A German-born American architect, Ludwig Lies Van der Role, incorporated van Doesburg’s idea of using bold-colored geometry to help define modern architecture. Van der Role is an architect and educator who exemplifies International Style of architecture and is acknowledged as one of the 20th century’s greatest architects. Van Doesburg also wrote numerous theories and journals on geometric abstraction which influenced not only Modernist architects but also many graphic designers.


“Theo Van Doesburg Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works …” The Art Story. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016. 

“Theo Van Doesberg.” Design Is History. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.

“Theo Van Doesburg.” Britannica. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.

“Mies Van Der Rohe Society – Legacy.” Mies Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.

The Revival of Art Nouveau in 20th Century

Alphonse Mucha has been a great influence in 20th century art. His artworks back in 19th century brought him to future fame. Mucha’s illustrations of stunning female portraits and application of highly decorative backgrounds have been acknowledge by many artists. Lately, his works inspired numerous young artists to incorporate some elements of Art Nouveau to there own work.

A Czech artist, Alphonse Mucha, who is known for establishing the basis of Art Nouveau style. Art Nouveau, or the “new art,” is a movement that aims for the beauty of all aspects of life. This style often possesses elements inspired from nature: flowers, leaves, animals, and some astronomical symbols. It also created fresh style by incorporating detailed decorations. One of the distinct style of the “new art” is the usage of curve lines and several swirling lines or loops. This theme adds elegance and harmony throughout the composition. Mucha’s innovative style led most of his poster arts became well-known. The following images are some of his famous posters.

soap-factory-of-bagnolet-1897Alphonse Mucha, Soap factory of Bagnolet, 1897

alphonse_mucha_-_job_cigarettes_1Alphonse Mucha, Job Cigarettes, 1989

mucha-7Alphonse Mucha, Princezna Hyacinta, 1911

alfons_mucha_-_f-_champenois_imprimeur-editeurAlphonse Mucha, F. Champenois Imprimeur-Éditeur, 1897

mucha-moe%cc%88t__chandon_cremant_imperial-1899Alphonse Mucha, Moë t& Chandon Crémant Impérial, 1899


Alphonse Mucha, Painting, part of the series The Arts,

Mucha’s works have been very influential to most new artists today. A lot of illustrators and comic artists have been inspired by his style. The use of organic and symbolic decorations are common aesthetics throughout many contemporary works. The focus on the female figure and other feminine aspects are also the key underlying elements that define Mucha’s style and the broad spectrum of Art Nouveau. It is through these visual elements that help lay the ground work and initial inspirations for modern day Art Nouveau artists.

One of the artists that was highly inspired by Mucha’s style is Hanie Mohd. She combined some female comic characters with decorative background inspired by Mucha’s artworks. The following are Hanie Mohd’s illustrations.











“Alphonse Mucha Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works.” The Art Story. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.

Eskilson, Stephen. Graphic Design: A New History. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 2012. Print.

“Superhero Ladies in Alphonse Mucha Art Nouveau Style | Ilikethesepixels.” Ilikethesepixels. N.p., 23 Nov. 2015. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.

“13 Most Beautiful Posters of Alphonse Mucha You Must Know.” DailyArtDailycom The Best Art Source on Web. N.p., 30 Aug. 2016. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.