We Create Our Own Smell of Peace

“When frankincense starts burning, I feel purity with every breath I take. I feel peace, warmth and the presence of intangible security – primeval, from ancient times, omnipresent, and only enhanced in moments of dedication…” – Marija Vrebalov

While thinking about my vocation of the designer, about creativity, creation and the impact all of this has on my personal life and the lives of people I cooperate, or have cooperated, with – if I have only just touched someone else’s life with this part of my own – I realized that we all share one thing: we all love to leave our mark in our space. We love our mark: on our wardrobe, in a cooked meal, a written word…

What does that mean for interior design?

In the life and work of a designer this means that, in addition to his mark, the designer should also think about the mark of the person with, or for whom, he is designing. This means that the designer first needs to hear, understand and sense the wishes and needs of their client- meet the client, recognize their inner calling, and transfer this to the design. This is how a new space is created.

Our lives are creations. We’ve been given everything. By combining the given, harmonizing ourselves with the environment and our values, we create our own reality from which we can receive a lot: peace, grounding, lightness, clarity, joy, purity.

Before starting any job, the first thing I do is organize my place of work. I recommend this to my clients as well: to organize, clean, put into order, sort, wash, and air out the space they live in. After cleaning, I burn some frankincense. I buy frankincense at one of the monasteries near the city I live in. I ask my clients whether they like the smell of frankincense or incense, or whether they prefer the candle flame; what it is that suits them better and is in accordance with their beliefs and culture. Everything is taken into consideration because everything is important. Then, unobtrusively, I ask the client to think about their space as the most important place –the recharging center for them, as well as for their families.

When frankincense starts burning, I feel purity with every breath I take. I feel peace, warmth and the presence of intangible security – primeval, from ancient times, omnipresent, which is only enhanced in moments of dedication… Only then am I ready to work.

The purification of a space from excess furniture, books, magazines, dishes, old and long-forgotten items, is the fastest and most effective way of doing away with the physical form of a rut. Sorting drawers, work surfaces, tables, closets, corners. Rearranging, moving everything around, wiping it down, picking it up, touching and seeing it. Assessing what it is that you need and what it is that you do not. Some may be of use to a friend. Begift items dear to you, the ones which have served their purpose, to dear people. Make room for clean, flowing air you breathe, for harmony in everything around you because it stimulates the harmony within you. This is all interconnected and affects one another. Every moment of peace within you creates peace around you and vice versa.

My wish for us is to take from this text the awareness of the ease of doing everything peacefully, to let go of the unnecessary, to leave and make room for the new, and to nurture what truly serves us and what makes us feel good.

Before every job, make a little haven out of your work space. If you are planning to cook for yourself or your family – organize your kitchen. If you are planning to write – organize your table, sort your books and recycle old paper. If you are at your computer – close all the windows which are not being used – which may distract you and bury you in unnecessary information. Clean the floor around your feet. 

A designer’s job is not only to draw the space, to line-up the elements, arrange, match styles, harmonize, satisfy the client. As I see it, a designer’s work goes much deeper than that. We create and open up a channel of communication between the client and their space. In my experience, although invisible, this channel can be intensely felt provided that it flows and is nurtured, as we nurture ourselves. The result is peace, sound sleep, clear thinking, harmonious relationships, a sense of security, purity, joyfulness.

I always propose that the beginning of the purification process take the form of freeing the space from any stagnant air, by airing out and dusting. Go over all surfaces with a cotton rag and warm water with a few drops of lemon juice. Do not get attached to things and objects. Take outside all the things you are not using, donate them; take your books to the library, furniture to an antique shop.

Frankincense, candles or incense could serve their purpose as well. Walk through your space, breath new strength into it, clean the air.

Your home is your little temple, your personal sacred place to return to, where you spend your most intimate moments. Respect it and be grateful for it.

Marija Vrebalov
Photograph: Dragana Selakovic Druu

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