Decorating a home or garden may seem like a trivial task but we may not realize that how we design our own space is a representation of who we are. Do we want to show that we are successful? Or do we want to show that we are warm and inviting? In order to decorate your pond with meaning, it is helpful to visualize and choose objects that represent and/or hold sentimental meaning to us. This process creates a more personalized experience of designing and enjoying your pond.
This idea of the human relationship to objects has been studied in psychology and sociology. Studies have found that our possessions become extensions of the self. We use them to signal to ourselves, and others, who we want to be and where we want to belong. This relationship is seen early in childhood as most children have an unusually intense relationship with a specific ‘attachment object’, like a favorite blanket or a soft toy. It’s as if children believe their special object has a unique essence, a form of magical thinking that re-appears in adulthood in how we treat heirlooms, celebrity mementos, and artwork. As our lives progress, our cherished possessions represent our sense of self and identity, becoming external vessels for our memories, relationships, and travels. The acquisitions of these possessions show what intrinsic goals motivated these purchases such as affiliation, belonging, pride, and self-reward. In Material Memories, written by Marius Kwint, Christopher Breward, Jeremy Aynsley, each writer discusses the way objects speak to us through the memories that we associate with them. The book dictates that objects are not, “blank carriers onto which humans project prior psychic dramas, but rather, place crucial importance on the precise materials from which they are made, their social, economic and historic reasons for being, and the way that we interact with them through our senses.” It’s with this interaction that we can smell memories, essentially generating our own portal to the past. This helps us to understand why objects are personal. They hold meaning because they are attached to an experience, an event, or a declaration.
Homes are a good example of how designing represents personality. Making choices on how your home will look results in a documented effect of your emotions and perceptions. In his book, The System of Objects, sociologist Jean Baudrillard argues that every object chosen to fill a space helps to determine its function. But, beyond that, the combination of every item that fills an interior acts as an expression of our personalities and desires. When a guest walks into your home or yard they determine your personality by what they see. For instance, Baudrillard says, “a person who chooses a smaller, designer couch over one that is a generic brand that offers plenty of room for their family to spread out together will be considered as very concerned with appearance and social status. Conversely, a person whose refrigerator door is covered in kids’ artwork and postcards from friends’ trips will be seen as more welcoming and sentimental than someone with a minimalist kitchen.” Applying this to your pond helps to convey your true sense of self.
Color is a main component of how we experience the world around us and has a distinct effect on or moods and emotions. For example, yellow is associated with happiness, creation, and creativity. It works well in combination with a calming neutral and natural light to create a peaceful environment, which is perfect for your pond. By planting yellow flowers or getting a yellow object that has sentimental value, you are evoking happiness or showing others that you are happy and content. In honor of National Smile Week, pick up something yellow for your water garden!
After learning about how decorating and choosing objects reflects your personality, think about how you can be represent yourself when designing your pond. It can be filled with objects that bring you happiness from your childhood like a wooden bench or an old urn from your grandmother’s house. Or if you are very peaceful and calm then using decorations that exude a Zen vibe might be the way to go. It’s all about preference and meaning so have fun and make the most of your water garden!