A quietness floated over Chattanooga, TN that morning like a still fog. The seasons were in the midst of transition. The icy cold winter slowly gave way to the incoming of Spring. All of Spring’s expectations came forth like a new promise: finally inviting the momentarily chilled South to greet the warmth again. Amidst this transition, we stepped inside the home of Daniel & Laney Nelson to experience a morning full of laughter, quiet lighting, and Scandinavian delights.
Just outside of downtown in Highland Park, a neighborhood on its way to a brighter future, is the apartment Daniel and Laney share as newlyweds. Their home carries a Swedish aesthetic and echoes the atmosphere of monastic living: it is quiet, reflective, and ultimately breathable. It provides space for thought. However, do not confuse reflective with a lack of activity.
We arrive at the break of dawn, perhaps a time that should be reserved only for movement on the forest floor. Laney has already set to work preparing a delectable breakfast while Daniel instinctively produces the morning dose of coffee. The morning light quietly bounces through their home inviting us to investigate undiscovered areas. Daniel signals me to come and witness a professional pour over on his new coffee bar, hand built might I add. I harken back to a time when most household items were built by the people dwelling in them – a time, ironically, that I never knew. I imagine wood working, carpentry, and simply the ability to make and create being a natural part of their DNA.
I took a course in anthropology back in college. While most of it surpassed my comprehension at the time, I remember taking a particular interest in ethnography, or “ the systematic study of peoples and cultures.” Albeit an 8 o’clock class, I perked up at the mention of individual tools, pottery, chairs, or kitchenware used throughout the ages. These items embodied a set of ideals within these cultures. They showcased what these people valued and why. These artifacts also uncovered a deeper human trait. Functionality, while the primary role, was not the only role. People often adorned their possessions with intricate carvings which sought to tell stories. The Greeks painted silhouetted figures of warriors, battles, and tragic love affairs on their pottery. Beauty gave their handiwork value and elevated their purpose. I wondered if the western addiction to shopping somehow stripped us of our innate desire to create and connect with the things we own.