Over 170 years ago, Henry David Thoreau packed up his belongings and moved into a tiny cabin in the woods on Walden pond, where he lived off the land in isolation for over two years. His reflections on the experience, Walden or Life in the Woods, is a handbook of sorts to a simpler way of life. Though our lives are much different today than they were when Thoreau left civilization, it offers lessons still applicable to modern society.
Even in 1845, Thoreau recognized that living a life indebted to society, getting caught up in the “rat race” of competing with friends and neighbors for success, was not the best way. Though today it would be almost impossible to fully go “off the grid” as Thoreau did, there’s something to be said for embracing a more simplistic life.
In Walden, Thoreau promotes growing your own food, taking time to appreciate nature, and reducing your debts to society. Instead of seeking theater, culture, or social activity for entertainment, he found joy in simple tasks like housekeeping, reading, and writing. He spent hours a day merely observing the sounds he could hear from his isolated cabin.
It seems that many of us could be well-served by embracing aspects of Thoreau’s experiment. And in small ways, people already area - joining the slow-living movement, planting gardens in their yards, spending more time outside, and taking moments to appreciate their surroundings.
With our furniture, we feel we are maintaining some of Thoreau’s greatest lessons, in our materials, manufacturing, and general business mission.
Though we love urban environments, we know connecting to nature is essential. Our furniture uses natural materials that are healthy for the planet and for homes. Natural wood or cotton furniture doesn’t release harmful chemicals, and is a sustainable way to outfit a home. Using natural furniture maintains good indoor air quality, and is not harmful should it be ingested by kids or pets.
Purchasing high-quality, hand-made items such as furniture also fits Thoreau’s principles. It emphasizes the importance of living simply, and having fewer items that are meaningful. You don’t need to fill your home with lots of worthless items - instead, purchase quality things that you really enjoy. Part of this is due to the sheer size of Thoreau’s cabin, but he felt a cluttered home just promoted the importance of objects, which Thoreau disagreed with. Many people credit Thoreau as being the first minimalist, as he wrote, “my greatest skill has been to want but little,” in Walden. Thoreau felt deeply that a person shouldn’t be defined by their stuff, but rather by their character. He wrote:
“In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
Custom-made furniture, like our sofas and sectionals, also allows people to experience furniture made by hand, to their unique specifications. We might not all have the time or skill to build our own home and furniture as Thoreau did when he was on Walden pond, but working with a craftsman is a good substitute. Getting back to basics by working with true craftsmen who painstakingly build your furniture promotes simplistic living. When you make yourself part of the process, you’re experiencing the building of the furniture as well.
Thoreau decided to live on Walden pond as an experiment, a chance to challenge himself to live a self-sustaining life. He wanted to prove to society that there are other ways of living, and that there are always opportunity for change. We try to do the same with our furniture. We value always pushing our company and products forward, to elevate them as much as possible. We never settle for where we are and try to think about nature as an extension of our lives. We are constantly trying to innovate and have an impact on the furniture industry towards more sustainability and to slow down and enjoy life as it comes.