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The Business of Nostalgia (or "Home is Where the Shag Carpet Is")

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

I’m pretty good at letting things go.


Nostalgia isn’t my thing, really. Things change, time marches on, and all that. I’m not particularly sentimental; I hold tight to what counts and keep a fairly loose grip on the rest. Or so I thought.


burkeMICHAEL+ is throwing a 90s-themed party this month. I’m always down for a good time, and as my team plans the evening, I expected slowly forget about it as I wrapped my head around new September partners and projects.


No such luck.


From the moment the gang suggested the theme, I was surprisingly excited: the acid-washed denim, the candy, the scrunchies. Songs I hated felt perfect, with two-plus decades behind them. Even in the context of a business shindig, I felt waves of authentic nostalgia. I was getting caught up in the past, or a version of it, and have no desire to untangle myself.


In the days leading up to this event, a lot of things are clicking for me. Before, I never understood why stores were hocking plastic turntables and pleated pants like it’s something to be proud of. Turntables break, pleats are ridiculous, and don’t get me started on the national scourge that was bathroom carpeting. The digital revolution was supposed to sweep away all such impurities in its brave new way.


Except you can’t sweep them away. We’re drawn to machines that break and carpets that stick and jeans that leave a mark in the middle of our torsos because they’re reminders that we’re real people with stories, making choices, marching along.


It’s the same reason why, I think, we are seeing a major design shift from sleek, impersonal business environments to ones that feel like home. Area rugs and live ( ! ) plants, well-appointed kitchens, meeting rooms that feel like living rooms. Spaces like that evoke a residential feeling of safety and happiness. Why shouldn’t we feel that way at work?


At burkeMichael+, we believe that the workplace should be just as human and personal as any other place we’d like to spend our time. We hope for a future where everyone goes to work feeling comfortable and taken care of, rather than like a means to an end. This is a product of every company’s culture, for sure, and our work is a direct reflection. Nostalgia is a powerful part of that mix, and one we’re embracing in interesting new ways. Suddenly, looking to the past feels very modern indeed.


A year ago (hell, a month ago), you wouldn’t catch me turning to the 90s as inspiration for, well, anything. But now I’m looking forward to reliving them, even just for one night, watching people celebrate the past.


The 90s are dead. Long live the 90s.


Don’t just read about it: You’re invited to join us September 19 at 6 pm in our showroom for our ‘Totally 90s’ party! Just RSVP to ashley@burkemichael.com.

Mary Frances

President + Ringmaster burkeMICHAEL+

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