Mode to Joy: Intentional Living through Queer Design

Photos by Dom Laba

It’s almost impossible to think about design lately without mentioning the KonMari craze of home declutter treatments promoted by Marie Kondo. When “mindfulness” and “meditation” are buzzwords used to an obnoxious level, the significance they hold tends to get lost in translation. What does it mean to meditate on our possessions? What does it take to create an intentional living space?

If we think of design as a metaphoric extension of ourselves, wouldn’t a sense of connection to our living space be vital? My mother lives by a decorating mantra reminiscent of Coco Chanel’s advice on accessories: “If you bring one item into the house, you have to take another out.”

Perhaps decluttering is less about how much we can get rid of and more about the lightness that comes from creating a minimal space on the backbone of what is intentional. Before we downsize to an extent that makes us feel like we are living in a dorm room, let’s ruminate on how we can reevaluate how to be mindful about what we choose to bring in.

Highlighting some of my favorite local queer artists and boutiques, these home essentials have the potential to add joy while still serving a purpose.

SHOP: The Future

2223 E. 35th St., Minneapolis, (612) 470-7337

This metaphysical supply store—located in the Witch District of South Minneapolis—is home to art, jewelry, clothing, apothecary, and ritual items handmade by queer and trans folks. Focused on healing, witchery, and other offerings, each sacred object is designed to make both one’s body and the space it is brought into feel positive and powerful.

Intention Picks:

A little moonlight can be quite the driving force. These screen-printed lunar calendar prints by Vanessa Adams and Andrea Jacobs are a great visual way to follow the cycles and movements of this magical, celestial orb month by month, and learn how to use its evolving phases to harness abundance in our lives. Shimmery and gorgeous, they are the perfect accompaniment to any wall. 2019 Lunar Calendar, Vanessa Adams ($30) • 2019 Lunar Calendar Screen Print, Andrea Jacobs ($40)

Embodying a high-vibration energy, selenite is an essential healing stone that absorbs and unblocks stagnant energy. Placing a wand of this translucent crystal in the middle of your house or room is a great way to cleanse the space, clearing the way for personal transformation. Selenite ($14)

Based out of Portland, Oregon, these ritual candles are handcrafted, spelled, and contain lunar-charged gemstones. Infused with herbs, flower essences, and essential oils, you set the intention and they provide the powerful magical tools of manifestation meant to inspire, cleanse, draw in energy, or bless a physical area. Bring warmth and intention into a space, plus get a little crystal at the end of the burning cycle. Ritual Candle, Magic Hour ($24)

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SHOP: Pharmacie

2743 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, (612) 200-9633

A self-proclaimed “drugstore for your lifestyle,” Lyn-Lake’s Pharmacie mixes modern design with an apothecary aesthetic, a healthy prescription for the well-distinguished home. Owned by couple Roger Barrett and Sam Beberg, the home-decor-plus shop carries a curated array of stand-alone, eclectic pieces done très soigné. Their ever-changing collection means a continual cycle of new gems to spark inspiration.

Intention Picks:

“Packaged in pink and conceived beyond the gender binary,” Boy Smells candles are essential for anyone seeking a candle as fluid as their identity. Using scents and oils that embrace masc and femme, their apothecary ethos centers around making daily habits therapeutic and self-affirming. Yes, a candle can do all that. Les—Limited Edition Votive, Boy Smells ($34)

Ambiance, mood, the key to a stunning selfie—good lighting is everything. With this banana lamp, you can illuminate your cheeky nature while adding a subtle hint of provocativeness. Seletti Banana Lamp—Dewey, Studio Job ($345)

What’s more intentional than protecting the things you love? These 3D optical illusion coasters scream “don’t stain my vintage coffee table” while being playful enough not to scare your guests into submission. Artfully designed, modern, and functional, they add a pop of color and geometrical bliss to anywhere a cup dares to go. Areaware, Table Tiles by Bower ($20)

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ARTIST: Ray Alicia
Air Plant Holders by Ray Alicia

Air Plant Holders by Ray Alicia

If Ray Alicia’s adorable, handcrafted air plant holders don’t bring you joy, you may need to check your pulse. The queer artist/illustrator might just be the Twin Cities’ air plant whisperer. From custom living installations to singular wooden holders, their work with this exotic plant species, formally known as tillandsia, is a reminder to keep up a daily communication between the environment and living things. The low-maintenance quality of these tiny green beauties make them the plant to own, even if you don’t fancy yourself a plant daddy. Air Plant Holder, Ray Alicia (prices vary). Find them at Gamut Gallery, 717 S. 10th St., Minneapolis; (612) 367-4327

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ZINE: Scream Queers

Born from a shared love of horror and queer lit, artists Mikki Coleman, Em Fern, and El Horsfall merged their art mediums to create the quarterly zine Scream Queers. Exploring the horror genre through queer commentary, the zine examines the intersection of the two narratives and how they, as queer non-binary individuals, can relate to it using art, poetry, and prose. A perfect addition to a well-curated and personalized lit collection, the zine complements a dark taste in TV and cinema while shedding light on their queer undertones. Follow @screamqqueers for info on how to snag a copy.

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Post-break-up? Dry spell? An ex of mine recently revealed to me their “sleeping alone kit,” which involves a pillow to spoon (silk doesn’t hurt), a heating pad (for a little imitation warmth), and a white noise machine. While neither queer-made nor local, the HemingWeigh White Noise Machine is minimal and compact, lulls you to sleep with all-natural sounds, and is sure to block any outside noise that might otherwise disturb you (i.e. the sound of your own tears). Find it on Amazon, White Noise Sound Machine, HemingWeigh ($29.99)