Correction: ClutterA tidy room does not always beget a tidy mind.

Correction: ClutterA tidy room does not always beget a tidy mind.

  • Words Ed Cumming
  • Photograph Florent Tanet

There is a famous Annie Leibovitz photograph of Karl Lagerfeld, taken in 2018, a year before he died. In a high-collared white shirt, his hair almost the same color, the designer appears as a small figure dwarfed by an ocean of papers, books, magazines, files, illustrations and invitations that rise almost to head height, the detritus of a career that never stopped. In the middle of this chaos is Choupette, his cat, looking out at us, somewhat bemused. 

Clutter is usually thought of as an obstacle to the creative life. Without order in the physical space, goes the thinking, it is difficult to have the kind of mental calm needed to come up with something new. Across different fields, the typical advice is to reduce distractions. Think of an architect’s large and ordered office, or the...

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