(Video link here.) At Things Organized Neatly, a website about exactly THAT, we found this terrific except from Ten Bullets, artist Tom Sachs‘ essential principles — “his code” — for employees working in his studio. Here he outlines something he called “knolling”, an action we’ve always done but never had a word for. Sachs’ interpretation is less uptight and more useful and expansive than the original definition.
“Knolling: to arrange like objects in parallel or 90 degree angles as a method of organization”
Sachs outlines the steps succinctly in his notebook:
Number 3, “Group all like objects” is, for us, THE essential principle in decluttering and organizing. In our experience, “like goes with like” is a practice many people don’t remember to employ. If you have rubber bands scattered through the house, gather them all together…then edit the ones you want. Same with books, paper clips, clothes etc.
Knolling is essential not just for workspaces but for keeping ANY space neat and livable, for quickly neatening a messy room or apartment.
Since Improvised Life has so many projects going on in its big main room, we do it all the time. Even if a lot of stuff needs to stay out for “works-in-progress”, knolling makes a huge difference in how the space looks and feel, not to mention our mindset.
To knoll the mess, below, that occurred when we were just moving in, we put the phone back on its charger, grouped the papers together in neat piles, put the pan with other pans near the kitchen, placed the work gloves with tools.
Often, knowling is an opportunity to create still-lives, as Maria Robledo does with her cutting boards:
We find ourselves in a constant motion of messing things up and then knolling them together (the before and after, below, from early on in our life in Harlem. Notice the stack of boxes and stuff covered with a canvas drop cloth on the far right…) Hiding things can be an excellent way to neaten things you don’t need right away…