While I was scrolling deep in the trenches of TikTok one morning, I had a visceral reaction to a video—with what I can only describe as chaotic good energy—about a design trend called “cluttercore.” Taking off during the pandemic, the hashtag has reached 49.6 million views on TikTok (and 23,703 tags on Instagram), and spawned more videos than any of my devices can load. I honestly had a hard time looking away from my screen because I saw so much of myself within this aesthetic. As I continued to procrastinate spring cleaning, an intruding thought took hold of my subconscious: Am I part of the problem or is this the unpopular solution?
Obviously, cluttercore is the opposite of what an organization expert like Marie Kondo would advise. Back in 2019, my colleague Hannah Martin spoke for unapologetic maximalists everywhere when she published the cheeky piece, “A Maximalist’s Response to Marie Kondo’s Minimalist Mandate.” So how does she feel about #cluttercore? I’ll have you know that when I showed Hannah my latest discovery it immediately sent her back to her teenage bedroom. “My lime green walls were covered in pages from magazines, gobs of jewelry hanging on nails, and angsty song lyrics that I wrote out in Sharpie,” she says.
“My first thought was, ‘Wow, these spaces make me so happy,’” Hannah says. “Why has the internet convinced us all that clutter is bad? Then I looked up the address of the closest Sanrio store in New York.” What she appreciates most is the emphasis on ephemera and objects that are deeply personal, as seen in the colorful and sunny domestic spaces of TikTok creators like @keyla1cat and @masa.toro. “So many of the types of aesthetics that have germinated on social media platforms feel really devoid of personal style,” Hannah explains. “What’s fun about cluttercore is it REQUIRES personality and specialized interest in order to work and it celebrates radical individuality.”