We’ve written about Foster Huntington’s love of simplicity before, but we’ve recently discovered another project of his: The Burning House. This one, makes us think about our Life Essentials by asking the question, “What would you take with you if your house was on fire?” We love that Huntington has taken this familiar question a step further by asking people to photograph, list, and submit, their essentials.

Sara Montironi for The Burning House
Sara Montironi for The Burning House

Scrolling through the submissions, we can see patterns which emerge: things we commonly love or need —  passport, camera, knife, sunglasses, a good pair of worn-in, comfortable shoes — largely practical items which serve a greater meaning: survival, travel, protection. They’re items which get frequent use (or even serve multiple purposes) and are easily transportable, like poet Poppie Airill’s four selections (above)

1. Kepulauan Banda (Banda Islands) – a book about a place where i am going to stay after.
2. Digital Camera
3. Notebook
4. Wallet: 

It points to how a small item can render itself incredibly useful in numerous ways, which inspires us to live with less in our  day-to-day lives, being more creative with what we have, and perhaps finding greater value in small things. A pen and paper is light and has endless possibilities… a book can be read, re-read and given as a gift… a loved item of clothing, always feels comforting to wear. Here are some favorites:

Ballet shoes and a journal from 14-year-old Adeline Mak:

Foster Huntington: The Burning House
Adeline Mak for The Burning House

…a book on typography + a favorite scarf from Kama of Poland:

Foster Huntington: The Burning House
The Burning House

…Ira Mowen’s outdoorsy chaos:

Foster Huntington: The Burning House
Ira Mowen for The Burning House

…or the minimalist mix of old and new media in Sara Montironi’s picks, above, which include a ring, MacBook Pro, Book of Dreams…

More here.

What would you take from a burning house?

—Eleanor Findlay


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3 replies on “The Burning House: What are Your Most Essential Objects?

  1. Depends on how much time you have , probably no-thing , esp. if you have pets to save , neighbors to warn and essentially just get out of there (if you cannot put the fire out) !
    I like the pictures of essentials .
    btw. from experience , tried to keep stuff i had written (but afterwards, when it was safe), yet over time threw it all out.

  2. .
    Having been through life with fire, the aftermath was keenly observed and cleaned by us and others. I always thought I would save my photos of family and friends, but when tested, life was most important.Photos turned out to be safe due to tight fitting drawers in which they were kept.

  3. Life with Fire. REAL life with fire is clearly very different than the Burning House exercise. That is really about what you have the leisure to gather together.

    Thank you for the perspective on the essential of essentials.

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