moa og kaffekoppen

October 26, 2011

I often talk about creating moments in design. An intimate vignette of treasured items on a dresser, an extemporaneous assemblage of natural elements on the window sill – to me these ephemeral still lives are the most cherished, the most interesting. Full of personality and vitality, these are the small dramas that reveal a home’s soul.

If in my pictures and writings I’ve failed┬áto clearly convey what I mean by all this, then let me enlist the help of Moa. In her blog Moa og Kaffekoppen (Moa and the coffee cup), this Olso native memorializes everyday moments of beauty and inspiration in and around her house. Intensely focussed, her photographs are never of sweeping architectural landscapes. But rather they document much closer encounters between the objects in her home.

There is so much in Moa’s place that I respond to, so many lessons to be learned: in complementary colors and dramatic contrasts, on textures and finishes, in light and air, on masculine and feminine, on the use of natural elements and industrial accents. But rather than go on and on, I’d like to focus on two salient points.

First, what strikes me in looking at these images of Moa‘s home is how much feeling is in them. There is no human interaction or furry animals, and yet they are moving, alive. This comes not only from the amazing photography in which the atmosphere is palpable, but also from the fact that Moa herself is palpable. Her home is so clearly an extension of herself, another avenue of expression, that she is in evidence in every photograph.

Secondly, it is interesting how much Moa is able to say with so few elements. In constraining her subjects in this way, each object is afforded its due, is revered, is worthy. In Moa’s realm, the piece of tape holding up a postcard is as important as the couch. In this pantheon, the coffee cup is king. In the same vein, every object in the home is treated as part of the decor. If style is an extension of self then personal effects like a bottle of nail polish or a necklace are as much a part of the design scheme as a pillow or painting.

If Moa’s home were in therapy, it would receive five gold stars for consciousness. Not an element in Moa’s home is inauthentic. It’s as if she has culled all her excess design baggage leaving only what is essential and true. It’s not forced. It’s not the intellectual editing of the fussy perfectionist. This kind of casual minimalism, where beauty appears random and natural, comes only from true self confidence.

The result is one of the most zen homes I’ve ever seen. Each photo is like a tiny prayer, a haiku of the home, a puja to the God of color or light. It makes me want to call up Elizabeth Gilbert to tell her she might have skipped the whole eat, pray, love world tour and gone straight to Moa’s for a cup of tea. For, in looking at these images, it seems to me that the pursuit of self may not be achieved in grand gestures and big adventures. Rather it is to be found every day. Discovered in the unexpected moments of beauty around you. In a tiny twig. In a cup of coffee.

All photos copyright Moa. Used with her permission.

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