In the midst of this, the holiday season, my thoughts have recently turned to gathering. Certainly no man is an island; congregation seems to be deeply ingrained in our collective unconscious. Witness the concentrated power of a group – whether in families, places of worship, protests or recovery meetings – an orchestra is simply more powerful than a soloist. In the trek of our communal yearly journey, never is this more evident than at the year’s end. I’ve never failed to be amazed by the throngs of folks who flock in awe to look upon the towering tree at Rockefeller Plaza here in New York City. It’s more than just to gawk at a glittery Christmas tree – we’ve all seen one of these more than once or twice in our lifetime. I think it’s really to feel we’re a small part of the assembled whole. Excitement and belonging is found in a stadium, not by watching the game at home. The importance of this needs to be recognized and respected, especially after witnessing the disturbing trend of anti-social behavior wholly aided by the internet. Why go to a movie when you can stream Netflix at home? Avoid the crowds! After a steady diet of habitual solitude, it’s no wonder we begin to hate anyone who’s not us.
One of the reasons I love living in New York is because I am acutely aware of constant human contact – and lots of it. We’re not hermetically encased in our own little personal worlds of climate controlled and Bluetoothed SUVs. We’re a herd and we’re free range. There’s a large and cramped living room here and we gather.
But how do we encourage community in our homes? As a designer, I believe we can enliven and elevate the act of gathering by our artistry. Rooms, spaces and assemblages of furnishings can and should rouse assembly. Think of furnishings as guests at a party and convene them as such.
Notice there’s someone else in the room. Sit across from him, listen and learn. You’ll be made better by the interaction.
Greg Tankersley for McAlpine Tankersley
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