The world as we know it is changing. Things are moving faster. More quickly. So quickly that at times it feels like a struggle to simply keep up with ourselves. We are living in an age where the internet has revolutionised the way that we work, live and think. In an age where information is travelling at supersonic speed and in a world where we are required to process so much more information than ever before.
But what do we do when this all gets too much? When it all feels like noise? What do we do when we become desperate to tune out the chaos & confusion in this age of information?
There may be nothing we can do to halt the pace of change in the world but what we can do as individuals, is change the pace at which we live our everyday lives.
With a strong desire to re-connect with ourselves and our surroundings, I believe that many of us (including myself) are desperately seeking to find another way, a slower way…
THE ART OF SLOW LIVING
For some, adopting slower ways of living isn’t a choice. It’s a necessity. To anyone who may feel unfulfilled, overstimulated or somewhat out of touch with themselves and their place in the world, slow becomes crucial. Slow becomes essential. Slow becomes vital to the transformation, evolution and development of self.
Our homes play a huge part in our journey towards slower ways of living. They create the foundations which form the narrative of our everyday existence. The objects and materials that we surround ourselves with each and every single day become a part of our story, and somehow in time, they become a part of our very way of life.
Lately, I’ve been feeling a strong desire to adopt a slower pace of living for myself and to discover some of the ways in which I could begin to adopt slower practices into my work, life and business.
When I think of the concept of slow, I often think raw walls, tactile surfaces and a certain sense of quiet luxury charm, but there’s more to it than that! So, you’ve guessed it! I wanted to know more!
As you may well imagine, I was more than thrilled when the stunning Nina Plummer; Founder of Ingredients LDN agreed to interview!
If you aren’t already familiar… Ingredients LDN is a beautiful lifestyle brand which celebrates a slower pace of living. I originally discovered the brand whilst browsing their feed over on Instagram and I must say… each picture you come across is more gorgeous than the next! Just see for yourself!
Today I share with you an interview which I believe could very well change your approach to everyday living. An interview which could change the way you think about all that you do. An interview which in fact… could change the way that you think about life!
I do hope you enjoy! x
Q: Ingredients LDN. Such a beautiful design aesthetic… I remember being blown away by your Instagram feed as soon as I clapped eyes on it a little while back … but I have a very strong feeling that you are not just about aesthetics, could you tell me a little bit more about the ethos behind the brand?
A: Thank you very much! ILDN is inspired by the desire for a slower pace of life. The ethos behind our store is driven by reflections on simple ways we can live life more mindfully. In terms of the items we select for our store it means giving consideration to all aspects of a product before deciding to add it to our range. We give careful consideration to:
- the materials our items are made from: we focus on natural over synthetic materials
- how and by whom our products are made: we favour ethical and sustainable production methods and artisan made products over mass production
- how the objects in our store will be used: we select objects that feel wonderful in hand, are a pleasure to use and facilitate everyday rituals that give life meaning and value
- how long the items are likely to be in use for: longevity is important to us and we love items that acquire a patina over time. Additionally, we try to select products with a timeless aesthetic rather than following trends and we focus on a neutral colour pallet.
The ethos of our brand is not only captured in our careful product curation but also in the journal on our website. We publish regular journal entries that show our products in use and tell small visual stories. These photographs serve to showcase our products in context but they are also meant to inspire our community through the portrayal of small moments of daily life lived and savoured a little more slowly. Moments like enjoying a good book with a favourite cup of freshly brewed tea or slowly preparing a healthy meal from scratch. At the same time our journal is a place where we share thoughts on various topics relating to a slower pace of life from exploring our consumer culture to how to care for the objects in our life so that we get the most use out of them, to how to decorate our homes in line with our values, to our take on the meaning of slow living in a fast-paced world.
Q: Slow living such an evocative term! Have you always been into a slower pace of life? If you had to describe the benefits of a slower lifestyle in your own words what would you say they are?
A: Paradoxically, my husband and I discovered the importance of a slower pace of life while we were living in London and experiencing the most fast-paced part of our lives to date. We both had demanding professional careers that were consuming most of our waking hours and we had just decided to start our own business which we were trying to run on the weekends and squeeze into what little spare time we had. We realised very quickly that we were constantly feeling stressed and had little time to properly enjoy any of the things that really brought joy and meaning to our lives. So we decided to change the pace of our life and move to Edinburgh in Scotland. I started working on ILDN full time and both my husband and I have started to use our time much more mindfully.
Unfortunately, we all have a limited number of hours in a day and there just isn’t enough time to do everything we would like to with the kind of care and attention necessary in order to experience real pleasure and find true meaning in them. At least for me there isn’t. A slower pace of life is about fostering a deep understanding of what matters most to us in life (and why!). Once we understand this we can begin to create enough time for the activities and people that matter most by sacrificing less time on all of those things that do not bring us closer to what we have defined is the most meaningful life for us. The real benefit of a slower pace of life is not only that we give ourselves enough time to do the most meaningful activities with the care and attention they deserve but also that we create time and space in our minds to allow ourselves to truly savour and reflect on what we are doing. I feel that this process of reflection on the mindful spending of our most precious resource (time) is what is most likely to lead to a feeling of a life well lived.
Q: The art of slow living… it really is an art! For some of us, it can be just so difficult to slow down and catch up with ourselves. What tips would you give to anybody who wishes to consider and implement more of the principles of slow living into their everyday lives?
A: It’s definitely not easy in a society driven by capitalist values but I think that our best chance if we want to thrive in the Western world while still giving ourselves the time necessary for mindful living, is to embrace the ebb and flow of pushing and letting go. For me, this means embracing the delicate dance between striving and finding gratitude and contentment in all that I already have and am.
The single most important aspect is investing time into understanding what is truly important to us and why. Once we can define what we want out of life it becomes easier to let go of all of those tempting things that, with deeper consideration, are really not what will make us happy. In today’s hyper-connected world we can see glimpses of so many lives that seem appealing, this can leave us feeling pulled in many directions which can lead to a sense of aimlessness and overwhelm. By defining as clearly as we can what truly matters to us we can begin to appreciate the beauty in all of these other paths while at the same time knowing that they are not what would make us truly happy. Once we realise this it becomes much easier to let go of the cravings and fear of missing out.
Q: Back to the visuals…The Ingredients LDN design aesthetic really is so very beautiful… how has the concept and visual language of your brand evolved over time?
A: Thank you! ILDN still feels like a new project to me – I have only been working on our store full time for a little over a year, so we are constantly evolving – what has always stayed the same is the focus on a visual aesthetic that is calming and soothing. In my work which involves creating all of the visuals for ILDN I am always trying to capture a sense of slowness and calmness; those little moments of daily life that can pass us by unnoticed but that have so much beauty within them, whether that is reading a book or preparing a meal. One of the big changes that has had a strong impact on the visuals of ILDN has been the renovation of our old Georgian apartment. Our home is also my studio and the place where all of the images for our store are created. We are only just beginning to finish what has been a big and long renovation project and every new piece of furniture we now add to our home seems to cement the visual aesthetic for the store that little bit further. ILDN was started with limited resources and alongside our busy jobs while we still lived in London and there were so many things I wanted to do that I just couldn’t. Once we moved to Edinburgh and I started working on the store full-time our aesthetic quickly began to line up much more with my vision for our store. At the beginning, when we first moved to Edinburgh I was shooting our products in front of crumbling walls, with no furniture other than my old marble-topped desk, and was restricted by limited camera angles that were carefully selected to not show the utter chaos in every other part of the room. As our home has started to come together it is becoming increasingly easier for me to convey what I really want to through our visuals.
But the driving force behind our aesthetic has always been a deep focus on natural materials, a neutral, calming colour pallet and an attempt to create something timeless that will stay relevant for longer. I’m sure the visuals will continue to develop with us over the course of the coming years which I really look forward to.
Q: Which are the most popular products in your homewares collection and why do you think this might be?
Our Blackline Cutting Boards have been one of our most popular items since we launched the store – beautifully crafted by Josh Vogel of Blackcreek Mercantile, they are crafted from a single piece of sustainably harvested wood and their deep rich colour is created using a natural reactive process rather than using pigments. The craftsmanship, care and skill that goes into crafting every single board is noticeable from the first moment you hold the board in your hands. I find that, like us, our customers are drawn to soulful, ethical and sustainably produced items that are crafted using unique techniques and with lots of care and attention to detail. What I love most about our Blackline Cutting Boards is that, like many of our products, with time, they begin to acquire a beautiful patina: golden threads that capture the marks of the blade when they are in use. At the same time, their quality ensures that they can last for generations.
ILDN attracts a large community of stylists, photographers and food bloggers and our Pallares Solsona Kitchen Knives are a firm favourite among them. These knives are so beautiful and their carbon steel blade not only keeps its edge for longer but also begins to change with time and use. Produced by a third-generation family run business founded on hand-craftsmanship and a careful selection of the highest quality materials, they are the perfect kitchen staple and absolutely one of our best sellers.
Q: A bit of fun…I just have to ask! Cotton vs Linen bedding, which is your personal preference?
I adore linen. Not only is it the most comfortable material to sleep in, I also love its story from beginning to end. From the fact that it is one of the most environmentally friendly materials to produce to the fact that good quality linen only becomes softer and more beautiful the more it is used and so can last for generations. Its quality makes it perfectly in line with the values that drive ILDN while its aesthetic can enhance any interior; from crisp ironed linen that creates a luxurious, antique feel to the relaxed and easy to live with creases of un-ironed linen that are perfectly suited to contemporary living. Linen is fuss-free, humble and incredibly beautiful.
Q: I must also know… what has been your favourite holiday destination to date and what inspires you throughout your travels?
I am drawn to places with soul where the deep and complex histories of humanity have been etched into every aspect of the place we are visiting. Among my favourite places I have visited thus far are the La Condesa and Roma Norte districts of Mexico city and the magical streets of the Grachtengrodel in Amsterdam’s historic centre.
My husband and I plan our trips based on the kind of mood we want to experience which is often deeply tied to the history and atmosphere of the place we visit. From the cool, otherworldliness of Iceland to the heart-breaking romance (and unbearable tragedy) of places like Savannah and New Orleans. We are drawn to depth, complexity and stories, even when these are challenging and heart-breaking, and to beautiful spaces old and new.
Q: In the digital age of social media, vast content creation and overstimulation of mind how do you maintain your ethos? Talk me through the process of running a slow business in a fast-paced modern world.
A. I’ve written more about this topic in our journal. At its core, for me, running a slow business is about organic growth and prioritising more than just the bottom line. Instead of making decisions based solely on profit it means being driven first and foremost by the desire to truly create value for our customers and our wider community. With regards to social media and living in a digital age, I think that we are all still feeling our way through what is a new world for all of us. For me, the best antidote to the malaise that can often accompany an overuse of social media is to invest time and care into fostering deep and meaningful connections with the world around us. When we engage fully with the people and activities around us, when we allow ourselves to be fully in the moment with them and give them our undivided attention, the draw of the digital world and social media disappears. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. I don’t have all of the answers but the only way I can keep my sanity is by anchoring myself to those things that feel real. Social media is not one of them.
Q: What do you get up to when you aren’t working on the business… which are those things that fuel your creative mind?
A. Deep long beautiful conversations without distractions. Vintage jazz like the uplifting songs of King Oliver, the unmatchable soulfulness of Billie Holliday, and beautiful sensual jazz like Sidney Bechet. The change in seasons from the sudden crispness of an autumn morning to the burst of life that occurs after the first extended week of sunshine in spring. All of the beauty that is around us from the intricate repeating patterns of the natural world to beautiful, crumbling old buildings, to evocative and punctuating art like Sally Mann’s magical and eerie photography that speaks to some hidden parts of our soul. But most of all cultivating curiosity by always, always continuing to learn.
Nina! I’m feeling just so inspired! I can truly see how the concepts of slow living can be utilised to enhance our everyday existence. I’ve absolutely adored doing this interview! I just have one last question to ask! What does artful living mean to you!?
Seeing our life as a work of art, a creation, something of our own making. Being true to ourselves and being an active and conscious participant in our unfolding story rather than just passively executing what is dictated to us by our DNA and cultural heritage. Being true to ourselves means investing time and effort into discovering who we are and striving to find productive, pro-social ways to express what we see on the inside so that it helps us to connect with the world (and most importantly the people) on the outside. This is not an easy feat, in fact, it’s a life’s work. But for me, this notion captures what is at its core, the art of living life fully.