Haiku Living

Home as poem

Photography by Norm Architects

Ye Hui is a Chinese poet and architect specializing in the renovation of old buildings. When building and furnishing a home or other building, he takes poetry as his model.

When we take our house as the poem, each room as a verse, and the furnishings as words, we become the poet-architects of our own lives.

The house and its rooms each become the page, the empty space behind and between the words. The items we place into each room are to be placed elegantly, making almost tuneful arrangements.

One room may be a modulation of ideas and forms presented in another room, and this may play out repeatedly as we move from room to room around our home.

There will be opening and closing verses, the entrance as viewed on arrival and departure, for example.

What is the opening, closing, and the crowning verse of the poem of your home?

What creates the rhythm? Can you see that in what is around you now? Or if you’re in the midst of planning your new home, as I am, what rhythm do you seek to set out for it?

For example, the crowning verse in my own home will be the space set out as a contemporary Asian style tea room. In this space, traditional Asian teas will be served and sipped. Art and poetry will be hung in its alcove. Readings will be held and tea meditations practiced. I am still editing the poem of my new home, so the exact location of this verse is still in the air. There are currently a couple of possibilities for its location.

The other contender for the crowning verse might have been the open-plan living/dining/kitchen space, but as this has three large full glass doors opening onto stunning landscape views, it is both entrance and exit to the house, so it is to be the opening and closing verse of my poem-home.

Items will be pared to a minimum, haiku-like, and in this entrance/central room, what remains will be essential and functional in nature. The cast iron crock-pot sitting on the log-burning stove will be a poetic movement in its own right. The crackling of the fire with the simmering pot making a sound play of its own, the black on black look, another, the perfume of vegetables and wood smoke a third line to this verse.

My studio space is yet to be decided. An open plan space in the attic, versus a cosier converted bedroom on the floor below. Either way, it will be stripped to the bare minimum, with storage for audio and writing equipment an essential to sustain this haiku like space. It's important that I maintain a blank canvas-like space on which to work. With my work being silence and poetry, this is essential to my working process.

Overall, only items of creative value or essential need will be shipped there. An elegant collection of word-like elements.

Highlight “words” will be contemporary ikebana, drawn from the land around the house. Once again, a haiku-like sense of play between form and field will be essential.

What does the poem of your home say today?

Originally published for our Inside Minimalism series.

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