WOMEN OF NOTE:
Marie Kondo | Founder of KonMari
Drawing from the simplicity of traditional design aesthetics, Japanese born Marie Kondo uses her inherent skills of tidying to transform homes into spaces of serenity and inspiration. From beginning her tidying consultant business at 19 to being named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the world, Marie Kondo’s passion and expertise are recognised across cultures worldwide. Founder of the KonMari method, Marie’s philosophy of tidying lays great importance on mindfulness, introspective and forward looking, keeping only those things that speak to the heart, and discarding items that no longer spark joy. The KonMari method speaks to the power and beauty of keeping life simple and uncluttered, enabling us to reflect on what sparks joy in all areas of our lives.
Dressed in our Deiji Studios 02 robe in Oatmeal, Marie invites us in to her home in California.
Where are you from and where are you now?
I am from Japan and I now live in California.
Are you a morning or evening person?
I enjoy both. I have designated routines and rituals for each part of the day that help me start and end my day making the most of my ability to spark joy. I usually go to bed around 11:30pm.
Do you have any morning and/or evening rituals you can’t be without?
Every morning, I open all the windows to let fresh air in, then burn incense to cleanse the air. I strive to keep my home comfortable and filled with clear energy throughout the day, so starting off the day this way sets me on track. Next, I give a little prayer of gratitude for my family and team members’ health, and renew my resolve to do as much as I can that day. My nighttime ritual is a form of self-care. Once my children are asleep, I change the water in all my flower vases and put things in the house back in their places. Because every item already has a designated home, I can usually complete this task within 10 minutes. As I put my things back into their places, I thank them for their hard work that day. Before going to bed, I diffuse oils to ease my body into sleep – lavender or Japanese hinoki wood are my favorites.
Your career is centred around the art of tidying up. Have you always been passionate about being well organised?
I became interested in tidying when I was 5 years old. I gathered as much information about tidying as I could, repeatedly practiced the principles I read about, and spent my whole adolescence researching the subject of tidying. As a hobby, I would tidy my friends’ rooms. Eventually, word got around that when I came to visit their homes, each one became dramatically tidy. Although I didn’t grow up in a particularly neat or organized family, tidying was just something that I loved to do!
The phrase “keep only what sparks joy” is a constant in your business, a sentiment that underpins your KonMari Method of tidying. What inspired you to share this philosophy with the world and what makes the KonMari Method unique?
I started working as a tidying consultant when I was 19. By word of mouth, I continued to get more and more referrals for clients. After a while, the waitlist for one of my sessions grew to 6 months, and I started getting requests from individuals to write a book about my tidying sessions. That’s when I decided to publish and share this philosophy with the world. The KonMari Method is unique as it centers around the concept of sparking joy. You decide to keep or discard an item based on whether or not it “sparks joy.” When you use joy as your standard, you confront each of your things earnestly, and reflect on whether they make you happy in the present. Consequently, you will begin to realize what kinds of things you want to surround yourself with and what your idea of happiness really is. Gradually, this decision-making ability will translate to all areas of your life, including your work and relationships. The greatest part of the KonMari Method and what truly makes it unique is that it’s not only effective for tidying homes – it can also increase spiritual awareness and improve overall decision-making. It transforms individuals and truly enables them to spark more joy in their lives.
Significant objects and belongings that we collect throughout our lives become imbued with memories and emotion; eternally sparking joy. What are some of your most treasured personal belongings?
The time I spend with my family is what I value most. One thing that I will never be able to get rid of is the first Mother’s Day card that I received from my daughters. It sparked immense joy for me. My husband prepared the card, which had my little girls’ handprints stamped inside. I also have a Christmas gift from my mother I received when I was a child. I cannot show it to my girls yet because they are still too young and would tear out the pop-up illustrations, but I am looking forward to enjoying the book with them when they get a little older.
Our bedrooms are places of rest and respite, but can often become easily cluttered. Do you have any tips when it comes to keeping a clean and tidy bedroom?
In any room, it is important to sort by category and store vertically inside your drawer so that you can see all items at a glance. For your bedroom, aim to store all things beautifully. Additionally, by neatly folding your clothes, you can solve almost every problem related to storage. Fold each piece of clothing into a simple, smooth rectangle – and then store these items standing upright in drawers rather than laid flat.
When it comes to loungewear, how important is the comfort of dressing to you?
The way you treat yourself when you spend time at home relates strongly to your self-image. By wearing something that sparks joy even when there is no one around, your self-regard will improve, and you will become confident in your daily actions and words. This will help you feel truly relaxed. You should wear something with a design, comfort and fabric you love, ideally made from natural material. It improves your self-image just by wearing it!
Linen is a beautiful natural fibre, which is easy to keep clean as well. What is your approach to caring and storing linen garments and bedding?
Fold what can be folded, and stand what can be stood upright. Any type of clothes that are suitable for folding should be neatly folded and stored vertically in the drawers.
What are you currently watching, reading and listening to? When seeking inspiration, where do you turn to?
I prefer to read over anything else. I’ve been rereading my book, Joy at Work, to understand and reposition my mindset as more of us begin returning to work. I also find inspiration and clarity through meditation – a practice I incorporate into my daily rituals.
Do you have a favourite recipe that remains a constant when cooking at home? If so, we would love for you to share it with us here.
One of my favorite things to make as I unwind is the traditional Fermented Japanese Rice Drink, Amazake. My recipe is below: Amazake (Fermented Japanese Rice Drink) Ingredients: 1.8 cups white rice, 2 cup water, 16 oz rice koji Cook rice. Once rice is cooked, add water and mix well. Then, add koji and mix well. Let it sit overnight for about 8-12 hours in 130-150°F (55-65°C). Maintain temperature at all times. Stir occasionally – I stir about twice. If you have a rice cooker, set it to the ‘keep warm’ mode and keep the lid open, but cover it with a kitchen towel. If you have a pressure cooker, set it to the “keep warm” mode on high temperature. If it gets too hot, lay a kitchen towel between the inner pot and exterior pot to maintain the temperature. Once 8-12 hours have passed, add heat to bring it above 167°F (75°C) to stop fermentation. This will prevent the amazake from over-fermenting and becoming sour.
How do you stay grounded?
I practice meditation to help me stay focused and grounded. In the past, I’d set aside a time before bed for meditation – sitting on the floor and closing my eyes. But recently I’ve come to think that repeating the same gestures – such as wiping the floor or cleaning the room – can be as effective as those traditional styles of meditation. So I only do that type of sitting-down-closing-my-eyes style of meditation about once a week.
What do you do to unwind?
I started applying a stress relief roller of calming oils to my neck to relax my body while working. It helps me keep calm and comfortable while remaining productive – and its scent of tarragon, frankincense and sandalwood lasts for hours! When I need to sort through my thoughts, I take a blank sheet of paper and write down everything on my mind. I identify any tangled feelings and reasons for worry or anxiety, then clarify which issues I can and cannot control. Keeping my hands busy helps my mind find stillness.
What do you dream of while you sleep?
I dream of vacation: relaxing in a hot spring inside the mountains of Japan with my family and cooling ourselves wearing “yukatas'' – casual cotton kimonos worn in the summertime.
Interviewed by Chloe Borich for Deiji Studio’s Field Notes