Prejudices about collections

Do we have biases on collections?

After writing the post about when your collection becomes clutter, I’ve kept wandering back to my earlier post about Kyoichi Tsuzuki’s Happy Victims exhibition, because he has said some pretty profound things that made me re-evaluate my perceptions.

In particular this paragraph has been sticking to me:

I don’t want to say it’s stupid, but imagine it:

A very small room, the person doesn’t have a lot of money but they spend all their money on books, and they fill their small room with books, you wouldn’t say they’re stupid.


But a small room filled with Comme des Garçons, looks really stupid, no?

That is our prejudice—that the person who spends all their money on books looks better than the person with Comme des Garçons.

There’s a hierarchy: Books have the highest position, then records, and fashion is kind of on the bottom.

But it’s all the same.

It’s how your passion flows.

So I started looking at collections of books people have at home in their personal libraries and in particular, how they displayed them


“Home Library cost: $110,000” — Source: BusinessWeek


Eva Designs

Those libraries look elegant, refined, and spacious. One might even call it minimalist, with the lack of frills around the area.

But in essence, it’s just space taken up to store STUFF, all the books that have been collected over the years, and surely read & beloved by the family.

However if we look at someone spending money on clothes or something less-than-equal in our eyes, we feel as though it is a waste of money.


$6500 Closet


$18,000 Closet

“A $40,000 home for your clothes” — Source: BusinessWeek

And the above pictures look like a waste of money to many, and a waste of space. I mean, really, a whole room for shoes & clothes?

Yet, they are both collections.

Those clothes and shoes have been in essence, collected and stored over the years, surely beloved & used by the family (or one girl? I don’t know).

It is because books are considered a worthy pursuit of academics.

Never mind that your library is mostly filled with Japanese manga or books about vampires or love stories.

It is a far better thing to be enamoured with the written word and to display it, rather than to be in love with wearing different shoes and making up different outfits.


Regardless of how you rank the different types of collections, we can all benefit from Concojones’ comment:

You’re right that not all collectors are hoarders, but even a devoted collector can benefit from applying the 80/20 principle to their collection: only keep the nicest pieces and give them your full attention.

3 things I learned from Tsuzuki:

1. Collections in my eyes, HAD been ranked before

I had previously felt guilty for collecting jewelery, until I realized that it was my passion & I’d rather borrow books instead of owning them.

2. Collections are possessions of a similar nature that you are proud to display and cherish

If it isn’t worthy to you, to cherish and display your collections, then it is just clutter.

And as commented above, apply the 80/20 principle and only keep your favourite pieces to give them your full attention.

3. Don’t collect items just for their perceived image

I’m sure you have heard this before: “Oh I haven’t read any of those books in the library. They’re just there for decoration.”

Or.. “I don’t really care about silverware collections, but they are EXPENSIVE antiques!!!”


Be passionate about your collection (if you have one), and stand by it.

About the Author

I'm a 20-something year old girl who lived out of a single suitcase in 2007, and now I'm living with less, but only with the best. You don't have to get rid of everything to become a minimalist! Minimalism can help simplify and organize your life, career, & physical surroundings. You can read more about me as a minimalist. Or come and visit my other blog Fabulously Broke in the City where I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months, earning $65,000 gross/year.