What can experience designers learn from Marie Kondo?

The experience economy is upon us and where there's money to be made from something it usually gets over manufactured.

But just like fast fashion went out of fashion, I wonder what is next for experience as it becomes commoditised?

Own less, experience less...feel more?

This is something I've been thinking about recently.

There's an emerging mindset (and for a growing number of people, behaviour) around the desire to own less stuff, strip back and simplify life; a minimalist mindset. This, in turn results in a growing appreciation for the things that do make it into our homes and lives.

As Marie Kondo says 'To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose...'

What happens when we apply this principle to experience?

In this thought, I've been taken back to my time spent at silent retreats where the whole experience is about stripping back as much of ‘experience’ as possible.

In total I’ve spent around 6 weeks living in absolute silence, not all at once, usually five or six days (and nights at a time). Think monastic style living, stripped back, essentialist; no sugar, no caffeine, no salt, no alcohol, no reading, no writing, no talking, no bright colours, no walking quickly, minimal eye contact.

This is ‘minimalist experience’, clean living for the senses.

Live like this for a week and the experience of anything that’s been stripped back becomes insanely intense; the smell of something sweet, the sound of birds singing, even the taste of a plain dry cracker.

In this state, we experience less but feel so much more. We truly cherish the experience.

I can’t help noticing so many brands trying to manufacture ‘experience’. Like the high street fashion stores pumping out overpowering and unpleasant scent. Scent used to be something reserved for boho boutiques in the Marais that could get it right because they had a certain sophistication.

When 'experience' becomes mass market and manufactured will we all get overwhelmed and turned off by it? (Like we have with fast fashion). What does experience strategy look like if we are designing for a minimalist mindset? When might this principle be important to designing experience?

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