Live Smaller, Think Bigger
Tiny is the story of ordinary people who have decided to leave the “rat race” and congested city life and instead subject themselves to the extraordinarily confining lifestyle of tiny houses.
My first thought was, “Everyone lives like that in the city. Big deal.” But as the characters began interacting within the space, striking similarities began to appear between their approach to living space and my approach to design.
Building a “tiny house” (180 ft or less) requires persistence, prioritization and proper budgeting to be successful but if executed correctly it can absolutely change your user’s world even if your user, as in the case of this documentary, is you.
There is a desire in business to constantly add more features to a product or service. We feel that more features will somehow justify the increase in cost and value and generate more revenue.
Successful companies have been vigilant against this approach and persist at focusing on simplifying and streamlining their products. They produce products with only features that are necessary and they do it extremely well. At the core of the tiny house movement is a refusal to accept the current consumerist dogma that “bigger is always better” and replace it with a return to simple but purposeful living.
In much the same way our protagonist was forced to be highly selective in what features to add to his “living space” so must designers prioritize the features that will enhance the “product space”. Our living rooms do not need to increase every few years to for us to be more fulfilled.
Lastly, our protagonist demonstrated that mastery takes persistence and patience. He set out to build his 180 sq ft home in what seemed to be a reasonable amount of time 90 days. Not understanding the complexity of building simplicity, the project ran over 290 days. Now this would have been a killer in the business world but since he was his only customer there were no serious ramifications. I did admire the fact that he stuck with the project and achieved some level of mastery in producing his tiny house. He did not settle and he never give up.
Good design removes the unnecessary and allows us to focus on what is truly important. For these tiny house inhabitants adding features and square footage to their living room got in the way of adding meaningful relationships and worldly experiences.