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Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Beauty of Small-Space Living

Posted by on Thu, Jan 17, 2013 at 7:38 AM


Photographer Menno Aden’s awesome Room Portraits capture small-space living like no other. Aden first got his start photographing the rooms of friends in Berlin — a city known for modest living, cheap rent, and often very tiny apartments. Inspired by the lives and sparse belongings of his fellow artists, he started the series as an extension of portraiture. With a bird’s eye view, Aden’s photographs capture the personality and essence of the small space dwellers, without ever showing their faces.
Only aggressive social engineering can transform the way our feelings are presently structured—our feelings for yards, rooms, kitchens, space to ourselves, distance from others. Because feelings are images, changing feelings is a matter of changing images. Because the majority of our images of ideal domestic life lead to the farm house (I have even seen urban homes with pantries), we have bad feelings for the kind of domesticity that is sustainable and achievable—living in small and crowded places. By social engineering, these feelings can be changed. By social engineering, we can find ways to reduce our exploitation of nature/space, and increase our exploitation of the greatest gift evolution has provided us—our pronounced and profound sociality.


Comments (26) RSS

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Catalina Vel-DuRay 2
I enjoyed living in a Capitol Hill studio with a Murphy bed, and would do it again if I had a balcony and enough storage space to swap out my lamps and artwork. I like to redecorate regularly.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on January 17, 2013 at 7:48 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 3
Troll, please: what do you think the suburbs and the interstate highway system are? Why do you always have to be such a drama queen?
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on January 17, 2013 at 7:49 AM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 4
Just keep the fuck out of my yard while you're doing it.
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on January 17, 2013 at 7:52 AM · Report this
Ah, yes, social engineering.
Perhaps it could be applied to people who purchase the house brand of clothing from Fred Meyer?
Posted by CATSPAW666 on January 17, 2013 at 7:54 AM · Report this
How about you take your "aggressive social engineering" and shove it right up your ass?


Posted by Mr. X on January 17, 2013 at 8:16 AM · Report this
I hear Walla Walla State has some wonderful apodments.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on January 17, 2013 at 8:35 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 9
I wonder how many of those tiny apartment dwellers have children? Or successful long term relationships, for that matter. Or the percentage of them who are over 30, or 40, or 50.

I wonder when Charles plans to move back into an apartment? When he does, will it be under 700 square feet? 500? 300? Surely there are such places to be found in Columbia City. No, not like the places that have been built in Capitol Hill and Ballard, but some mother-in-law attic? Charles could get his density and his diversity all at once if he's willing to work with what Columbia City offers.
Posted by Matt from Denver on January 17, 2013 at 8:50 AM · Report this
tainte 10
Posted by tainte on January 17, 2013 at 9:03 AM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 11
This deserves a copy-paste from a comment I posted elsewhere last night:

One of my favorite stages of life was living in a college dorm. It couldn’t have been more than a 10′x15′ room for two of us to share, probably 40 rooms to a floor, 10 floors tall. We’d generally leave our doors open and there would be roaming social interaction as neighbors would gather in one room or another.

No kitchens, shared laundry bathroom and lounge areas, and a caffeteria on the ground floor. It all worked wonderfully and I had a blast.

I'm not sure you need social engineering to get there. Removing existing social engineering would help.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on January 17, 2013 at 9:12 AM · Report this
Hernandez 12
When I was living alone, I really liked living in small apartments in amenity-rich areas. They were easy to clean, there was enough room for all my stuff (and it kept me from accumulating more stuff I really didn't need), I could make my food and have my little sanctuary and everything was cool. I didn't entertain a lot of guests, but there were plenty of places to hang out and socialize in my neighborhood, whether a park, restaurant, bar, music venue, etc.

Once I got into a serious relationship and got married, we ended up moving to a larger (but not huge) apartment. I still loved it, and it was big enough to have a few people over for dinner and drinks once in a while.

That said, along the lines of @9, now that we're starting to think about the long-term future (read: having kids), there's no way I'd even consider moving back into those smaller spaces. Thankfully I have the option of living in a house for when that stage of life eventually rolls around. Families need bigger spaces, and I've noticed that even affordable family housing apartments are pretty damn big compared to what's being built in Belltown or Capitol Hill these days.

Posted by Hernandez on January 17, 2013 at 9:33 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 13
@ 11, I'd like to see middle aged people try to live like that.
Posted by Matt from Denver on January 17, 2013 at 9:39 AM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 14
@13 Exactly. There's something strange in our culture that stops this from happening much, but it wasn't always like this. Yes, college kids have more time for sociallizing, but it's certainly desirable throughout life. The current typical living situation separates everyone, disconnects us from one another.

It's such a huge stretch from the standard single family home with large yard and literally tons of stuff to the dense co-housing of dorms that it's all but unimaginable for the middle aged. But I'd love to see how it plays out.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on January 17, 2013 at 9:58 AM · Report this
GhostDog 15
I'll agree with Charles when I can get a low fat/low sodium/low preservative dinner at a sustainable price without a kitchen and cannabis vaporizing(not smoking) roommates that don't have sex too often themselves but are totally ok with me having loud sex several times a week ,keep decent hours, and don't mind me getting up at 6:30AM to chant for about a 1/2 hour.

And yes, I know that is totally unreasonable. That is why I live alone.
Posted by GhostDog on January 17, 2013 at 10:04 AM · Report this
GhostDog 16

With respect, I'd disagree. We used to live in the type of arrangements that you and Charles are talking about and we moved out of them for a reason. It sucks to have to politic and compromise and with a more dense living arrangement you would have to do it literally every waking hour of your life.
Posted by GhostDog on January 17, 2013 at 10:06 AM · Report this
Once you're in your 30's and have been living in four times as much space as depicted in those photos, it's highly unlikely you'd ever go through the possessions culling required to comfortably fit into such a space again, but that's because junk and space have been cheap and plentiful as you aged. If you're young and haven't yet accumulated a ton of things (books, CDs, clothes, etc.) it's doable. It's like living in the city without a car--if your life is set up for that from the beginning it's not a hassle. Otherwise, only tremendous financial upset or religious conversion will cause people to pare down the inventory.
Posted by tiktok on January 17, 2013 at 10:13 AM · Report this
When I was a college newbie, I was all about meeting new people and being exposed to new things.

Now I'm in my fifties. I share an office with four other people (down from sharing one with nine other people just a few years ago), and when I'm not in the office, I'm in a classroom, corridor, or some other public space, surrounded by anywhere from 15-350 other people. It's made me treasure privacy. At the end of the day, I want to be home, alone, with my husband and our three dogs, where it is peaceful and quiet.

Life is all about stages. College dorm life was a great stage. So is this.

Posted by Clayton on January 17, 2013 at 10:14 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 19
@ 14, I was alluding to the very profound difference between being 18 or 19 (few students beyond sophomore year continue to live in dorms, in my experience, with many bolting as soon as their freshman year was over) and being any older age. I think the thing you described is the joy and novelty of being out on your own with a bunch of other kids who are also experiencing the same thing. The novelty wears off, and I'd bet a dollar that you're viewing your own experience through a rosy, nostalgic mist.
Posted by Matt from Denver on January 17, 2013 at 10:22 AM · Report this
julie russell 20
When I moved in w/ my husband in 2003, I remember thinking "this will last a year or less". The house is TINY but has a big yard. After whining about giving away half of my furniture, being forced to keep 75% of my records in storage and thinning out my wardrobe, I like it now. It is cozy
Posted by julie russell http:// on January 17, 2013 at 10:30 AM · Report this
Banna 21
@11: sounds good until my kids run in and out of your room a few times, then all the "kids shouldn't fly on airplanes" types start bitching about how I'm not respecting their life choice and kids should be on a leash, etc.
Posted by Banna on January 17, 2013 at 10:45 AM · Report this
Wow, Charles. I've never seen an urban home with a pantry. (I wonder if those people cook at home most days, too, and like to have a place to store non-perishable foodstuffs?) What a lucky guy you are!
Posted by Calpete on January 17, 2013 at 10:51 AM · Report this
merry 23
Nooo! Not "urban homes with pantries"!!

clutches pearls, tries not to faint
Posted by merry on January 17, 2013 at 11:10 AM · Report this
Well there is co- housing which often features smaller-than-usual home spaces with common yardspace and a common meeting area.

I still like that idea except for the hours of meetings that seem to be involved. In a dorm situation the housing authority makes sure the roof doesnt leak, base rules of behaviour, etc.
Posted by david on January 17, 2013 at 11:37 AM · Report this
Backyard Bombardier 25
I would love to live in 600 square feet downtown. And in twenty years, as soon as my four kids graduate and leave home and my mother-in-law is six feet under, I expect the wife and I will have that. Until then, the seven of us will keep our 3600 square feet. And our fucking pantry.

We are not all monks, Charles.
Posted by Backyard Bombardier on January 17, 2013 at 12:32 PM · Report this
treacle 26
More co-housing please.
Posted by treacle on January 17, 2013 at 2:28 PM · Report this
Sandiai 27
I'm still stuck on the "feelings are images" line.
Posted by Sandiai on January 17, 2013 at 9:32 PM · Report this
Charles is just a troll who is interested mainly in feeling special about his lifestyle. Ignore him and hope that the stranger fires him at some point. Although the probably won't because he seems the only black writer in that lilly white liver Seattle.
I live in LA, Charles would not last a NY minute here.
Posted by fotoeve on January 18, 2013 at 2:40 AM · Report this

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