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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Order + Chaos

One must still have chaos within oneself, to give birth to a dancing star.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Chaos / SML.20121219.IP3.SMLU.Desk.Chaos

Chaos / SML.20121219.IP3.SMLU.Desk.Chaos

I am very messy. I am aware of that. I try to stay organized but it is very hard. People often ask me how I can find anything in my mess. Oh but just because you cannot doesn’t mean that I can’t. I have a very good visual memory. I won’t say that it is photographic but if I have read or seen anything I usually remember them. It just has to be visual or audible. They don’t work as well if they are just some abstract things such as words. But if I have seen it then I remember it.


When you see all these neat desks at showrooms + furniture stores + photo shoots, you are often lead to believe that it is possible to maintain a very clean environment when you work. Don’t believe the hype!

SML Workspace / SML.20121204.IP3

Moment of peace and order before chaos resumes”—new “desk” from MUJI (technically speaking it’s a dining table)—like you have to ask! Also like I said, I own every Apple product except the iPad Mini. You don’t see the iPad because it’s used to take this photo. :)

I try to stay organised sometimes—usually when I ran out of space, but it is difficult. The neat workspace will never stay long. I swim in chaos daily. I am glad that I am not OCD because if I were then I will never have time to work.

When I used to work for large agencies, I was always amazed that some people’s desks are very neat. Actually most of their space are. I just don’t know how they stay so organized. Do they actually work? I ask myself this question all the time.

A working space is a messy space. Input is always messy. Input is always full of chaos. Input is always disorganized. Output though is usually clean. Output is clear. What you see at showrooms, furniture stores and photo shoots are output, not the input.


My second husband was a clean-freak. We lived in a small studio apartment together for two years. He has good taste and we lived in a space filled with Philip Starck furniture and designer goods. Everything in the apartment is white. It looks good but it is completely unusable for me. I had to tiptoe inside my own apartment because he decided to buy a white carpet for the entire room. It was crazy—#notallcrazyisgood you know.

225plan: Phillip Starck + IKEA / 2003-05-21 / SML

225plan: Phillip Starck + IKEA / 2003-05-21 / SML

On the one hand it was nice that there was someone cleaning after me and unchaotize my mess. On the other hand it was completely unlivable. How do you live when you don’t feel at home at your own home? If I accidentally spill anything in the also completely white kitchen I get yelled at. Wow, seriously—how do you cook without making a mess? We ended up eating salads everyday. I did lose a lot of weight as a result. Maybe that’s a good thing!?


“Chaotization has begun.” / SML.20121205.IP3

“Chaotization has begun.” / SML.20121205.IP3

People who try to be helpful often would attempt to organize my things in ways which make sense to them when they visit. The problem with that is that they don’t have photographic memory and so when they “helpfully” organize my stuff I would end up not being able to find anything because they have no photographic memory. This sucks. So mind your own business ok?

In general I do respect public / private space. Any space that is public and shared I try to keep them as neat as possible. But within my own private confine where it does not affect anyone else, I just let them loose because what works for me might make no sense to you whatsoever but if my mess does not affect your being then you have no right to come in and tell me what I do is wrong and proceed to change things in ways which fits you—especially when you yourself cannot find what I need in your “better system” when I can always find what I need in my “chaotic system which makes no sense”—that is all.

Artists’ studios

“One must still have chaos within oneself, to give birth to a dancing star.” —Friedrich Nietzsche  / Chaos / SML.20121204.IP3

I visited a lot of artists studio in the past and they are always chaotic. They often keep on apologizing that it is not clean. But I really don’t mind it, really. In fact I enjoy seeing the messy chaotic working studios instead of the times when they are doing open studios and everything feels completely out of place awkward. Things just don’t feel real when they are neat. This might also be why I don’t really like seeing art in galleries and museums when they are all clinically cleaned everyday.

I love the messy workspace. I celebrate it. Mess / chaos / active vs inactive piles tell me a lot about someone. Removing all the data tells me nothing about the person. I love data. I want to see people as they are. Alter-egos are boring. Embrace who you are. Be yourself. Be.

(Yes I do clean up from time to time. Usually when I have no space to work. But my working surface consists mostly of the monitor + tablet + Moleskine so messy desks do not affect me really.)

Update 2013-01-02: now available as a single-image

Humans don’t like to click and no one wants to read a super long post but somehow most don’t mind reading if it is in a single image. Oh humans. SMLBioBot gets you. Here it is as a single image, made with love especially for you:

“Order + Chaos” / SML.20130102.SMLProBlog.Chaos

Original version 6400x6400:

Order + Chaos
/ #亂 #chaos #ccby #smlphotography #smluniverse #smlprojects
/ #意見 #opinions #smlopinions
/ #stuff #computers #desk #chargers #cables #nerds #mess #tools #geeks
/ #馬鞍山 #MaOnShan #香港 #HongKong #中國 #中国 #China

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