Some of my fondest childhood memories revolve around food. Not so much the eating of it (although it was always good) but rather the planning, preparing and presenting of it. My mum and I would plan dinner or a buffet and together with my dad we would make the dishes and put a lot of effort in presenting them. On these occasions, my mum would take out her best fine bone china and we would set the table in a grand style. A tradition that passed down not only to me, but also to my sister.
Seeing my family’s fine bone china always brings back memories to these fond times. My mum bought hers when she went to England on holiday when I was about 5 years old – probably one of her favourite holiday destinations. So her flatware has the added memory of a wonderful holiday as well. It is no surprise then, that when I started to earn, I too invested in proper fine bone china. Being a traditionalist at heart, I picked a classic Wedgwood pattern. Although I do admit I am not using it as often as I should, every time I do take it out of the cupboard and set the table, my heart will sing.
My house is scattered with heirlooms. A crystal bowl my grandmother got on her wedding, some china from my great grandmother, the list goes on. It brings a smile to my face every time I handle them or use them. Over time, I also add to my own collection. Purchases done to signify a milestone or special occasion. And for these purchase, my choice would be quality products, made with craftsmanship.
Objects do have the power to make every moment special. That is why I feel it is so important to have pieces in the house that stand the test of time. Quality items that display heritage and craftsmanship. It is not about the costs of the item, but the emotional attachment will add immeasurable value. With globalisation and the transient world we are living in, I see more and more people hunkering to some wholesome family values – a sense of belonging through pieces that are handed down from generation to generation. So it is always good in investing into some quality pieces – not only financially but also emotionally.
Quality is timeless. And quality products make environmentally sustainable products. Maybe more energy has gone into producing a quality product, but if this item serves its purpose for many years, it contributes to using less materials and reducing waste. Seldom quality products are created in large factories, reducing industrialisation and pollution.
Even though it is hard to define, we know what quality is. To me, quality is the result of a carefully constructed environment. Quality is in the hands of craftsmen. Artisans that love what they do and dedicate time and effort in creating the best they are able to.
Often we look at eco-friendly products only at the material used, but we often forget that importing these products does use a lot of energy. Centralising production might cut down on costs, but this means we are forcing small craftsmen to close shop and move to secure a living – inevitably adding to our overall carbon footprint. More and more people are becoming aware that being green means supporting local businesses and handcrafted items. This is what I consider true Heirloom Quality, items that are made with integrity.
In this fast paced world, many of us can look around our homes and spot nothing remotely valuable enough passing on. Houses are decorated with big box items, produced at low cost and short shelf live. To me, heirloom quality reflects in how things are put together so that they are durable and will stand the test of time. It’s not only longevity that makes an heirloom, but each item needs to inspire a memories so it can last generations.
With so many brands jumping on the heirloom bandwagon, only a few products actually are of heirloom quality. Le Creuset Dutch Ovens in example. They are a modern classic that stood the test of time. Their colourful pots and pans are now becoming a staple in a well equipped kitchen. Production of furniture is going downhill as well. How often do we see pieces that are made out of solid wood, that only increase their beauty over time? A proper sofa can last you decades. A Chesterfield sofa only becomes more beautiful when it is slightly worn. The style is timeless and can easily fit a modern décor as well as a traditional home.
Only a few items do have that ability to transcend trends. It would be worthwhile to invest in some of these pieces. A hardwood table gains a nice patina over the years, and it often can be given a new lease of life, the same goes for leather furniture. An antique furniture piece can be made modern by adding a sleep lamp or contemporary design items. Heirloom design is all about a timeless elegance that features a sophistication and quiet confidence.
Here are some tips on creating your own heirloom collection:
- If possible, always use natural materials
Natural materials stand the test of time and they are easy to mix and match. Solid wood, natural stone, metals and leather are always good choices.
- Pick items in a muted colour palate
Don’t think of colours that are in trend, but rather pick a colour that you can add to.
- Select classic styles
Classic design has staying power, avoid overly ornate or detailed items – but rather keep things simple and streamlined
- Invest in functional design
Less is more and when purchasing items make sure they can easily adjust from space to space. A large sofa might fit your current space, but will it fit a new home?