Knolling for fun and profit
January 11, 2023 3:57 AM   Subscribe

... the Kondo boom feels like the last hurrah of a particular type of the prescriptive, white-knuckled minimalism that felt inescapable for much of the past decade. Enter "knolling," a totally different organizational method born from the studio practices of artists, designers, and DIYers that involves laying out related objects—paint pens and ink markers, wrenches and chisels, metal chains of all sizes—in a precise but simultaneously stylish way, intended to streamline workflow. The organizing practice feels uniquely suited to meet this aesthetic moment and rife with potential as an interior design philosophy, focusing on highlighting your belongings instead of discarding them. Tyler Watamanuk writes in Dwell on the Life-Changing Magic of “Knolling.”

Gentle reader, if you are also new to knolling, ponder this: "Before purging your belongings to tidy up à la Marie Kondo, consider this organizational tactic championed by two artists with ties to the American furniture manufacturing company," advises the author, who includes many nifty links such as one to a tumblr called Things Organized Neatly (which was covered previously on the blue in 2010 and 2016).

Also potentially appealing:
50 examples of knolling photography
Always be knolling (scroll down for delightful photo of Charles and Ray Eames)
The art of knolling (short, Lego version)
Brief how-to
A book: things come apart: a teardown manual for modern living

Welcome to cluttercore
Geometry and ornament in Islamic architecture
posted by Bella Donna (63 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
The Present & Correct store's Instagram feed has many fine examples. I had no idea this had a name.
posted by chavenet at 4:07 AM on January 11 [4 favorites]

Me either! Was excited to learn that it had a name and it became knolling in honor of architect Florence Knoll.
posted by Bella Donna at 4:13 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]

(Minor distraction: Ms Kondo's principle was not that one should get rid of everything, but that one should not clutter up one's life with things that did not improve it, and especially things which one had a difficult emotional relationship with, which tends to result in getting rid of a lot of stuff. The remaining stuff one can organise as neatly as one wishes. As you were.)
posted by Grangousier at 4:16 AM on January 11 [81 favorites]

Fair comment. I’m sorry I didn’t edit it out.
posted by Bella Donna at 4:19 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]

Sorry - I didn't want to be an arse, but... these sorts of arrangements of things are fantastic, but impossible for some of us. In many ways they embody the same principles as Ms K - the objects are abundant, but presented with such care and attention to detail that the result is ... well ... joyous. Precise and systematic joy is still joy.

(I have a vexed relationship to Stuff, and I think it pressed a button. More a comment on the laziness of journalists than the dedication of knollers.)
posted by Grangousier at 4:23 AM on January 11 [13 favorites]

As someone with rampant ADD, both sides of this "organization" spectrum bring out the cynical side of me I have to say.

Framing knolling as "life-changing magic" is suspect IMO. I think it's telling that the term was coined by a janitor, whose job apparently was organizing Frank Gehry's studio.

I mean, I'd love a full-time employee to follow me around and organize the mess I leave behind. While we're at it, I'd also love a space with apparently endless flat areas to organize my objects into carefully arranged photogenic grids.

As a painter, I see a photo like this of carefully arranged brushes, paints, etc and have to chuckle a bit. This arrangement would last a grand total of 5 minutes once I get started on a painting.

As an aesthetic, this seems tailormade for Instagram, magazine spreads, etc. As a practical way to organize your things, I couldn't imagine anything more impractical.
posted by jeremias at 4:30 AM on January 11 [34 favorites]

Sounds a lot like 5S for people who never heard of 5S.
posted by achrise at 5:13 AM on January 11 [16 favorites]

I always love these images - especially the ones where all of the elements are one item, dismantled. I’d never heard the term either, but as soon as I saw the word “knolled,” I immediately made the connection to Knoll and had a little inner epiphany- what a perfect name for it!

I love this post.
posted by Mchelly at 5:23 AM on January 11 [5 favorites]

I love the presentation style (check out the book Things Come Apart if you do too), and I love the idea of a sort of mis en place for a session of creating, but it really kinda presupposes you have only one hobby/interest with no overlapping tools.
The article introduced me to "cluttercore" as a concept which is so much less shamey than borderline hoarder, which is nice.
posted by Iteki at 5:23 AM on January 11 [4 favorites]

As someone on meds for ADHD, anxiety, and depression, I have zero belief that this idea will be life-changing for me. That’s a clickbaity headline, for sure. Still, I like learning a new word, and I enjoy pretty images. Those small things have made today just a bit better for me, which is why I posted. No worries if knolling is not for you!
posted by Bella Donna at 5:38 AM on January 11 [7 favorites]

Obviously it's a kind of art thing more than a practical way to organize stuff. But it still kind of bugs me a bit to be honest. It strikes me as twee, but also...

You know how vampires can allegedly be stalled by throwing rice on the ground because they're compelled to stop and count them? I feel like I have to look away to avoid getting stuck searching for imperfections in the alignment.
posted by Foosnark at 5:57 AM on January 11 [5 favorites]

Knolling when leaving a workspace that you will return to soon is fantastic.
posted by thedaniel at 6:00 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]

This makes for very pretty photos indeed, but I'd be curious to see photos of any actual studio or workshop that uses this approach with tools or art materials or whatever.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:10 AM on January 11 [4 favorites]

This just seems like Catalogue Photography to me.
posted by Lanark at 6:13 AM on January 11 [7 favorites]

I also thought the janitor connection was interesting.

I have never been able to keep any workspace I have in my current home in order. My father's workbench had an 'everything in its place' vibe, so I grew up with that, but I can never keep it up.
When I worked in the field repairing computer systems, my toolbag was always in order, but that was because at the end of the job, I had to take it all with me. At home stuff just spreads out.

I'm going to look more deeply into 5S. On first glance, it sounds like there might be something useful to me there. (Although my 2 messiest areas are both unheated. I may have to wait until Spring)
posted by MtDewd at 6:18 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]

I share a studio with an artist that does this with tools and art materials, and know several others - not sure why mefi is reacting to this as cutesy or twee or impractical especially when it came from… a working studio. It might not be for everyone but it’s not made up lol
posted by thedaniel at 6:22 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]

I am saved from having to consider the pros and cons of knolling and whether to apply it to my home because I have cats that like to push things off tables. Thus: knolling is impossible. My decision is made for me. I am free of FOMO.
posted by sixohsix at 6:23 AM on January 11 [10 favorites]

Surprised that there wasn't a direct link to the Tom Sachs video 10 Bullets, #8: "ALWAYS BE KNOLLING". By Tom Sachs - mentioned in the Always be knolling above.

I've been on a Tom Sachs / Van Neistat YouTube bender this week.
posted by art.bikes at 6:26 AM on January 11 [4 favorites]

...not sure why mefi is reacting to this as cutesy or twee or impractical ...
Might be because of a high incidence of neurodiversity.
posted by MtDewd at 6:26 AM on January 11 [8 favorites]

I'm guessing they don't have cats.
posted by bookmammal at 6:29 AM on January 11 [12 favorites]

This also is a much more limited idea than KonMari, I think - it wouldn't really work applied to your wardrobe, your books, etc.

Also, it's sort of mise en place applied to non-food projects.
posted by sagc at 6:34 AM on January 11 [10 favorites]

The version I heard in design school was that the janitor would do this with all of the things left out that he couldn't be sure of their proper place, to prevent getting in trouble when something was put away "wrong."

It's a great way to tidy up someone else's tools and working materials. In my own shop I don't care as much - either I left it out because I was working on something, or I know where it goes, or I know it doesn't have a proper home and will continue to float.
posted by jellywerker at 6:51 AM on January 11 [5 favorites]

The thing that knolling (as represented by these examples) reminds me of the most is the scene in the movie of Pink Floyd The Wall in which Pink, having trashed his hotel room or apartment or wherever it is, meticulously organizes the trash, pretty obviously trying to impose order on his spiraling internal chaos. I mean, I get the aesthetic appeal; what bugs me is the idea that this is supposed to be "life-changing magic" instead of, as jeremias put it, "tailormade for Instagram", or for that matter, this crowd.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:12 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]

About eight years ago, when I still worked as an art director, we were doing a fun project for an appliance company, a sort of interactive showroom. As part of this, we were going to use this Knolling method of displaying groups of similar items—stuff like dishware, items of laundry, cooking utensils, etc. Someone had dug up this term "Knolling" which was visually familiar to all of us, but a word that we had never heard. It was explained to me at the time that the Knoll office furniture company used this technique as a sort of visual packing list. Arrange all the parts, photograph them in one slide, then label the items with numbers that corresponded to a list. Much faster to do it this way in 1960 than to have every screw and washer and bolt and caster (maybe 50+ pieces) hand drawn.
posted by SoberHighland at 7:22 AM on January 11 [4 favorites]

Why should I put something away if I'm only going to use it again, within the next 5 years, maybe?

This is the de facto (dis)organizing principle for my desk & workbench. At its best, maybe it could be called "pre-Knolling".
posted by Artful Codger at 7:38 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]

This is so appealing. Thank you for posting it!

For me, finding the materials I need, when I need them, is an absolute prerequisite to quality, timely work.

If I can't put hands on the machine square, or the zip tie, or the spatula, or a pencil, in very short order, something else - often my own brain - will push back and often indefinitely suspend progress.

And I've been working on getting better at that for, oh, several decades now.

One model was my dad, whose workshop is arranged in a tidy-but-not-clinical way. Tools have a place and don't linger on the bench when they're not needed. But he doesn't draw outlines around the tools on the pegboard.

HIS dad, my grandpa, was entirely different, yet just as productive. Nothing was tidy, but he got things done, all the same.

My mom, a nurse, was a minimalist. You don't clutter your world with stuff you won't need.

For my part, one of my favorite Sunday evening activities, after a weekend of projects, is getting the kitchen or garage or workbench back in order. Monday-Friday will be busy, so if I don't want to look at the clutter all week, I can listen to a podcast while I sort through my tools and materials, then return them to their homes. Sometimes, it's a good time to enjoy a beer, too.

A classic in the workshop organization genre is Casey Neistat's Studio Tour. Not everyone likes him, but if he's not problematic for you, it's ten minutes of inspiration.
posted by Caxton1476 at 7:38 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]

O.k. so I have some thoughts here regarding the "when is this actually practical to use?" questions.

The first is that this reminds me of nothing so much as every dentist's office I've ever been in. Like you want to see knolling in action? just take a look at the tray the dentist grabs all the different pokey things from. I think as long as the layout was consistent over time/location this is probably perfect for any work environment where looking away from the work is an issue. My Dad's fly tying table comes to mind as another example.

Second, it reminds me of some of the advice in "The Brain Injury Survival Kit" by Cheryl Sullivan, which was recommended to me by my speech therapist to help deal with some of the cognitive/memory fall out from Long COVID (highly recommend it to my fellow Long Haulers out there btw, it's written by a MD who suffered a TBI and is incredibly empathetic and practical). This seems like if you were scrupulous about only leaving out the stuff you were working on (which I think are half of the given 4 steps for the method), it would be really helpful in helping give visual cues as to what's next and what tool to use to do it. Sort of the physical manifestation of the project's check list.
posted by Gygesringtone at 7:44 AM on January 11 [19 favorites]

These last two months I've got in the habit of making smoothies first thing in the morning. I didn't know that my late night habit of artfully setting out the glasses, fruit, honey, spoon and such had a verb!
posted by iamkimiam at 7:52 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]

I think the photos themselves are art, but the organizational style would not be productive for me. Ok, my day is 50% working and 50% arranging my tools.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:52 AM on January 11

See also the Studley tool chest
posted by echo target at 8:00 AM on January 11 [4 favorites]

I commented above, but I also really want to strongly push back against the idea of knolling as an organizational technique applicable to general life. It's not, and I think many of the articles above are trying to spin out a word count to that end.

Knolling is great for an in process tidy, but it's not where things go. It's an interim step between leaving stuff all over the place and putting things away.
posted by jellywerker at 8:05 AM on January 11 [11 favorites]

So this has been pootling away in the back of my head and I need to get it out, because I'm supposed to be using my head for lucrative things.

To tie together three themes: the linked articles, the off-hand references to M Kondo, and attention:

One's sense of self isn't only in one's head - the present context is an extended part of oneself, as are one's tools. You are you, and you are your hand and (in the context of work) you are your tools, your desk, your workshop. As long as you need to keep a part of your attention on where the spanner (or the big knife, or the little brush, or the 6B pencil or whatever) is, it gets in the way of operation. So you put all the tools together in a logical way - almost self-mapping - so you don't need to remember where they are, you just know and you can trust that they're there.

At the same time - and this is how I've used a similar method in the past - this particular technique is a way of involving the body in the process of taxonimisation - while it's all in the head, it gets muddled. While it's something I'm doing, and an ongoing act, there is a clarifying effect. And, yes, putting attention into lining things up at right angles does have a soothing effect, now I come to think about. Don't worry about what the object is, or what it means, just get it aligned, and the relationships will begin to work themselves out.

No doubt, no anxiety and it frees up that bit of attention to focus on the work at hand. That's why professionals do it, no doubt.

That's also how the supposedly chaotic pile method ("It's all perfectly organised! In know what pile it's in!") works, too. I've lived like that for long periods, and I have a sense of where a lot of things are - literally, I can feel it like a thread running from my body to where something is, when I turn my attention to it. The problem is that I have too many things, too many threads, all those different signals merge into noise. If I was able to taxonomise them, it would be possible to put them away, but the noise interferes with that process.

Where Kondo-san comes into it is that she is proposing a strategy for reducing the noise by getting rid of unnecesary signals, and overcoming the secondary noise produced by things which are occupying one's space because we feel a moral responsibility towards them (which actually covers a lot of things). Once one has (ethically) removed those ofuscating signals - things that one neither needs nor wants, really - the noise settles down, and it is more possible to gather one's attention.

She only has anything to do with it at all because of the very strange tone in the first article, which invents a false dichotomy. Both methodologies address approaching a chaotic personal environment with care and love, both suggest supportive methodologies for taxonomising and organising one's space and possessions (which, because of the relationship between our tools and our minds that I mentioned above, means organising ourselves).

Do you have to do either? No. But both are available as strategies if you want them, and both are useful in particular circumstances.
posted by Grangousier at 8:27 AM on January 11 [22 favorites]

Knolling is great for an in process tidy, but it's not where things go. It's an interim step between leaving stuff all over the place and putting things away.

I think part of why these articles exist is as a response to the very prescriptive popular definition of what "away" has come to be.

In the end the only real way to define "where things should go" is "where is most useful for the person who owns/uses them" and, for some people, that is "left out, arranged in need little rows by type". If it's not you, that's fine, but some of us need things left visible so we don't forget about their existence, but also not overly cluttered because that takes too much energy to parse.

Real example here, I just took a shower, all my after shower stuff is stored on the bathroom counter so that I'll see "oh lotion is a thing I put on in the winter" and "oh that's right I use my water pick". When they're not out on the bathroom counter, I forget to do them, because they're new things started after I got COVID and my brain has decided they're not worth the energy to store. And yes, they're arranged on the counter and sorted into little groups of like objects because it looks nicer and clutter as a thing is just so exhausting to look at.

I hadn't thought to bring it up early because... well the same reason I need them left out, if I'm not looking at the lotion it takes work for me to remember that it exists as a thing I do.
posted by Gygesringtone at 8:33 AM on January 11 [7 favorites]

If you are looking for an organizational technique more applicable to general life, I second 5S. There are elements that are not applicable but the general gist of "a place for everything and everything in it's place" can be helpful at times.

Plus if you work in a manufacturing environment, and you can become an expert on 5S, certain operations directors will be positively slobbering over you.
posted by shenkerism at 8:39 AM on January 11 [5 favorites]

This looks like something you could only do after you finish Kondo-ing your workspace and only have the stuff you actually use or love. Or else something you do in one area in the middle of Kondo-ing while you figure out what you want to keep. Can't really see how it would work long-term in a cluttered space full of stuff you haven't sorted out already.

I can see how this might work really nicely for certain areas; the simplest application just reduces to the common tool-room pegboard where every tool has a labeled slot, but a lot of the photos are clearly just nifty photography layouts and not something that makes any sense for a life organization method. For starters, how huge a living space would you need to be able to space out everything you own, and also, unless you are an obsessive duster, it's all going to need wiping off before you can use it after a while.

It's weird that this is being discussed as an alternative to minimalism, or conflated with cluttercore, when it seems like it's largely functional minimalism on display (while cluttercore, looking at the links, seems to be very little clutter, and just densely packed organization.)
posted by Dorothea Ladislaw at 8:51 AM on January 11 [10 favorites]

I share a studio with an artist that does this with tools and art materials, and know several others - not sure why mefi is reacting to this as cutesy or twee or impractical especially when it came from… a working studio. It might not be for everyone but it’s not made up lol

In general, bundling people's various reactions as "mefi" (as if they are one entity) is kind of a recipe for disaster if you're actually trying to add to the conversation.

Specifically, I don't think anyone was claiming this is made up, but there definitely is this conflict between "organizing things in rows and columns because it looks pretty in photos" and "organizing stuff to help you be more productive or organized".

I mean, look at the 50 examples of photography from above (although the images don't seem to be loading for me at the moment?) many of these are purely aesthetic, organizing your chocolate bars and wrappers is clearly not a thing anyone would do IRL.

My issue coming from a place of ADD is that it's being framed as a way to "control a little bit of our world or some way to dissipate the nervous energy we have", in that way it is similar to the Marie Kondo thing or "Getting Things Done", or any number of productivity hacks out there that are incredibly difficult to live up to.

Case in point, I have 2 remote controls that I was always misplacing, literally a cliché of organizational problems. So I bought a little holder and attached it to a location within arm's reach. The problem is that despite there being a singular and unique place to put these things, my brain does not care, and they still end up in weird-ass places like the kitchen counter.

To be clear, I love the idea of this, and seeing the images is aesthetically pleasing, this is a great post. I also am sure this technique is useful for folks in artist studios, or other workspaces where easy access to frequently used tools is a thing.

I am simply very suspicious of any organizational technique that promises to help you control your life if you just follow these simple 4 steps (or what have you). For many people this just fuels a cycle of guilt and shame when inevitably the system falls apart.
posted by jeremias at 8:56 AM on January 11 [6 favorites]

Sorry - I didn't want to be an arse

You're not. Discussions about the Kondo method (or proposed reactions against/alternatives to it, as with this FPP) have been illuminating because her simple request to just seriously think about your possessions makes some people lose their fucking minds: "prescriptive, white-knuckled minimalism!", "oh, so we should just burn every book!", etc.

It really is baffling how willfully some people want to misunderstand Kondo's simple point. A smarter person than I could tease out what this says about modern consumer society that the mere suggestion of thinking about your stuff sends some people into hysterics.
posted by star gentle uterus at 8:58 AM on January 11 [21 favorites]

It's weird that this is being discussed as an alternative to minimalism, or conflated with cluttercore, when it seems like it's largely functional minimalism on display

This was my reaction too. It seems like a variation on Kondo, rather than an alternative to it.

To make this work, you have to have (1) relatively few items, and (2) enough clear space to lay them out.

My problem is that I have a ton of stuff, and never enough space for it.

I've realized that the biggest challenge for me is stuff that doesn't actually have a designated home. I've gotten better at tackling this issue over the years. But I have many interests and creative pursuits, so it's really a never-ending challenge.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:17 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]

the biggest challenge for me is stuff that doesn't actually have a designated home
Agreed! I have made some headway in the kitchen, which I enjoy. I want nothing more than for everything I own to have a known home but that may never happen.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:23 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]

Is this something you have to live in something larger than a studio to enjoy? Because I literally have to work hard to have even a little unused flat space. So, "arranging everything in alphabetical order for maximum aesthetic effect" seems like a cute luxury.
posted by the sobsister at 9:37 AM on January 11 [4 favorites]

Totally into gnolling. Having a hyena head, carrying a large axe, devouring flesh, it rules.
posted by rodlymight at 10:09 AM on January 11 [16 favorites]

To make this work, you have to have (1) relatively few items, and (2) enough clear space to lay them out.

My problem is that I have a ton of stuff, and never enough space for it.

Exactly. Racks, bins, boxes, cabinets, closets, bags, and to be honest, piles, exist for a reason.

I'm into modular synths, and have a little shy of 200 patch cables in a range of sizes. But I have one color per size, and they're very neatly arranged on a cable hanger within arm's reach, which is an excellent method of organization. Laying them out in neatly aligned rows on an enormous hypothetical table is not.

Likewise, I feel the need to reserve some kitchen counter space for food preparation, instead of laying out all the forks, knives, small spoons, big spoons, measuring spoons, spatulas, peelers, can openers, etc. across them...
posted by Foosnark at 10:22 AM on January 11 [4 favorites]

I'm not sure whether knolling would work for me but anyone near Las Vegas should check out The Office of Collecting and Design, which is pretty much an amazing example of this applied to tons of "clutter".

The owner's Instagram has tons of photos that fit right in here. If you go in person they have a photo studio where you can borrow the random objects of your choice and make your own!
posted by mmoncur at 10:53 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]

FWIW, that right-angle obsessed janitor at Gehry's was a teenaged Andrew Kromelow; he's a sculptor who went to Bennington with Tom Sachs. [Edited to fix link issue]
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:53 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]

It’s funny how knolling has become so associated with the artful display of personal objects, because it (as 5S and mise en place are explicitly) is primarily a way to manage a shared physical resource. Woodshop managers don’t spray paint outlines of tools for their own personal joy, they do it to provide greater ease of collective organization. Knolling is one sub-step of practice within a larger environment aimed at keeping shared resources usable by all- a topic I care more about every year.
posted by q*ben at 12:17 PM on January 11 [14 favorites]

I've seen a lot of the aesthetic, photographic arrangement side of this, and hadn't encountered the term knolling or its context as a studio practice and organizational thing. It's interesting and striking, coming in cold, to see such a strong relation drawn between those two worlds because they feel pretty far apart in practical terms, yeah. A lot of the photographic specimens are basically purely aesthetic and have as some folks have noted close to zero utility past minute one of getting to work on something.

It makes a lot of sense to me, as someone who has a hard time maintaining a clean and organized creative workspace, to seek out a method of organizing things well and neatly in a repeatable, high visibility way. I think if I could do that more easily, I would! And the heart of knolling as something with practical utility seems to be just about that, with a soupçon of aesthetics baked in along the way as much because neatly organized things are aesthetically striking almost by default.

For my part I tend more toward bins and shelves and at best a fairly low-chaos set of 3D piles: plotter pens live on this shelf on my desk where I can reach them easily while drawing; lower-frequency pens go in that drawer across the room; paper lives in this set of drawers because I got tired of it living in random piles fucking everywhere and not being able to find it; my stained glass tools live in a little cart under my basement worktable so they don't go fucking everywhere; glass lives on a glass shelf because it's glass and it just CAN'T go everywhere; everything, ideally, sits within a relatively small radius of wherever its home is. Everything after that is spending a relatively small time finding where it is. The more I use it, the more specific the place and the smaller the specific radius, but just about nothing actually has The One Spot Where It Goes. I'm too clumsy to reach for a tool without looking (even the ones that won't burn or cut me), so having a tool live in an exact spot or laid out within a specific tableau doesn't help me anyway.

Also this is all making me think we're overdue for another Deskology thread in MetaTalk.
posted by cortex at 12:48 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]

Knolling is one sub-step of practice within a larger environment aimed at keeping shared resources usable by all- a topic I care more about every year.

This feels like a very good point. I can get away with my piles-of-varying-radii approach largely because I am always doing creative work by myself. No one else has to be able to find anything. If I were sharing my pens and plotter with a partner and using the space in alternating tandem, things would need to improve a lot organizationally in order to forestall a murder.
posted by cortex at 12:49 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]

If you watch the entire “eight bullets” video by Tom Sachs it has this slightly uncomfortable managerial-fury-masked-by-humor vibe that I very much associate with independent shop management. Watching the video I have to ask myself if it’s a good idea to work for a place that would make these rules, but it’s also in my opinion the best 21st century manifesto yet provided.
posted by q*ben at 2:12 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]

It just occurred to me that my solution should be to get a janitor.
posted by MtDewd at 2:30 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]

The Sachs video also lands on a Calvin Coolidge quote tied to a badly aged Lance Armstrong reference, heh. But it was a decent watch.
posted by cortex at 2:38 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]

My problem is if I don't have a place to put the thing I kind of just pile it all up, tools and materials piled up in unstable drifts. For years have been involved in an arms race buying boxes, trays, cabinets, drawers but I seem to be losing. I did have an epiphany about hardware storage though: put the randoms in a big container (sub gallon sized) and when you want to find something just dump it out on a counter, paw through it and then scoop it all back into the container.) In some respects this is far superior then having multiple small parts bins 2 of the same fastner in them, (but labeled and arranged!)

I watched the Sachs video, first time I ever heard of him, not for me; I'd probably end up punching him if he were my boss.
posted by Pembquist at 4:35 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]

Oh me too, Pembquist. But at the same time if I imagine myself owning a downtown fab facility staffed by ambitious, artistic shop assistants, I'm sure within a year I'd generate something along the lines of this too (though maybe not quite so self important ;).
posted by q*ben at 4:58 PM on January 11


WTF is a managerial-furry-masked-by-humor?! Oh wait.
posted by bendy at 7:53 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]

Punch Sach or hug him for ’curing your ADHD’ with repetitive labor. (Link is only a decade old interview with Adam Savage where Sachs goes on to makes jokes that ADHD meds should only be taken recreationally starting at ~22:40).
posted by zenon at 10:32 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]

A couple of minutes into the Sachs video, finally (I mean, after all my droning on, I really ought), and it immediately exposes all sorts of oppositions that are implicit in that first article. Sachs: Guys : Kondo: Chicks; S: Tough : K: Kind; S: Workshop : K: Home; S: American : K: Foreign.

The line "Follow these instructions and you probably won't be fired" is enormously revealing. As are the many references to war and violence. As with a lot of Guys like him, he's putting a lot of work into making sure he's impressive. In my experience it's also possible to be enormously technically competent without dragging around a cetacean ego around with you (or the performance thereof), and I'd tend to pay more attention to those other people, not least because they will get to the actual information more quickly.
posted by Grangousier at 3:37 AM on January 12 [3 favorites]

Many folks were introduced to knolling via the pro-knolling evangelism of Metafilter's Own Adam Savage.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:59 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]

Some of the pictures look really cool and this might well be an efficient way to work, but to use it I would need about five more desks and an extra house to put all those desks in.
posted by the_dreamwriter at 1:29 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]

it feels more significant than just organizing tools in a workshop. Think of it as a picturesque and deliberate way of arranging that can be applied to our homes: Curate a vignette
Yeah, no, my trinket vignettes are not more significant than the various workshops* where my skill and agency determine what’s going to happen on a range from art to ER visits.

*many domestic; eg kitchens can easily go either way
posted by clew at 10:36 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

My problem is if I don't have a place to put the thing I kind of just pile it all up, tools and materials piled up in unstable drifts. For years have been involved in an arms race buying boxes, trays, cabinets, drawers but I seem to be losing.

A couple things that have worked for me:

1. I do little 10-minute bursts of cleaning in my studio. I find that if I tell myself I'm going to spend that amount of time neatening up my space, it's not too intimidating to handle. I can even roughly plan in advance what stuff I'm going to put away. By the end, I've usually made things a lot neater, even if I haven't made them perfect. And I always make sure to stop precisely at 10 minutes. That's part of the magic that makes this work -- it ensures that the satisfaction I get from the process outweighs the anxiety that would otherwise keep me from doing any cleaning at all.

2. Every once in a while (like maybe at 2-year intervals) I do something I call "box-o-rama", in which I open up all my boxes, drawers, storage bins, etc., and sort thru each one of them. What I find is that I can always take out a few things that I realize I don't need any more, and I can move some other things around to better rationalize how I have stuff stored. And as a result of doing those things, I can usually also find homes for at least some of my homeless items. It's a very helpful process.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 2:30 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]

Case in point, I have 2 remote controls that I was always misplacing, literally a cliché of organizational problems. So I bought a little holder and attached it to a location within arm's reach. The problem is that despite there being a singular and unique place to put these things, my brain does not care, and they still end up in weird-ass places like the kitchen counter.

A common enough occurrence in the Guy household, that I might as well say things like, "Honey, since you're already in the kitchen, would you mind turning the volume up a notch please?"
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 10:50 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

All your boxes at once, Artifice_Eternity? I have a rolling reminder to do one box/drawer/cabinet a month. I’m probably missing inter-box felicities.

Can someone recommend a beginner’s guide to 5s for home shops maybe?
posted by clew at 6:33 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]

Hilariously I am helping lead a workshop on knolling next week so I am absolutely grateful for this thread because I would literally have looked like a giant question mark when it came up otherwise.
posted by Iteki at 2:32 AM on January 20 [2 favorites]

All your boxes at once, Artifice_Eternity?

Yes, but like I said, only every couple of years -- I don't have the bandwidth to do it more often than that!

There's definitely some serendipity and perspective that occurs when you have all the boxes/bins/drawers open at the same time that you wouldn't get otherwise.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 3:36 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]

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