This winter when my husband and I traveled to Southeast Asia for 3 weeks (to Hong Kong, Cambodia, and Thailand), I pondered “What is organizing, and how it does it manifest in Asian cultures?” During this trip I explored the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat, was blessed by Buddhist monk there, wandered through temple complexes barefoot, and fed elephants and helped give them a mud bath a remote sanctuary. During this trip, I also explored how my profession translates to Asian societies and examined how many of our organizational elements are echoed in their cultures.
One prominent way organization shows up in Southeast Asia is the use of patterns. The locations that exhibit the highest forms of organization are the Buddhist places of worship. Whether there are a minimal number of objects or a great deal of them, the use of ordered repetition is a powerful way to create an organized space. These photos were taken at temple complexes in Hong Kong and Thailand. There is a strong sense of balance, and bright colors are used to accent the sense of extreme order. Take note that in the large walls, small Buddha statues are placed in each tiny nook adding up to thousands of them!
Gilded Buddhas (and sometimes solid gold ones) are definite eye-catchers highlighted in Southeast Asian Buddhist temples. Intricate designs and architectural features also enhance the organized appearance of their temples. Aside from religious centers, scenes of organization in the smaller local temples in Hong Kong are quite appealing as well. These scenes are not only decorative, but they are also functional spaces for temple practitioners to burn incense as acts of worship.
Organization can be highly aesthetic but function is often more important in retail spaces. Things are easy to identify and locate in organized stores and shops in Southeast Asia, just as it here in the U.S. In organized stores there, things are placed systematically and everything has a home. Notice how meticulously organized these stores are, and how that enhances the beauty of the displays.
As you can tell, our trip was nothing less than spectacular. You’re not seeing my photos of my husband posing with Apsara dancers (he’s a choreographer and former ballet dancer), images of our resort in Phuket or the time we spent snorkeling around breathtaking islands, nor other scenes that don’t relate to my journey exploring “organization” in Southeast Asia. So I’ll leave you with these (non-organization related) images of Barry and me at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary near Chiang Mai, Thailand, and monkeys on a gilded deity at the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery in Hong Kong. I hope you enjoyed exploring organization in another part of the world with me, and send me a message or give me a ring if you’re ready to get your own spaces organized in NYC!