[Click for full-screen view. Unless credited otherwise, all images in this post ©Carter Berg from Never Stop to Think...Do I Have a Place for This? by Mary Randolph Carter,
Rizzoli New York, 2014.]
Children are natural collectors. When photographer Carter Berg was six, he cleaned around a dozen club soda bottles until they glistened like crystal and arranged them on his dresser along with assorted personal treasures including a Pac-Man hat.
But adults aren't always encouraged to be as free -- to gather and curate just for the joy of it. There's a belief, held by some, that those who love lots of things are just a little less evolved than those who live stuff-free. Pop psychology even tells us that collectors might be filling an emotional void. In her latest book, Never Stop to Think...Do I Have a Place for This?, writer, photographer, long-time creative director for Ralph Lauren (and Carter Berg's mom), Mary Randolph Carter, shares a different point of view: a counterpoint to the anti-materialist philosophy.
[Mary Randolph Carter, right, visiting Minnie Mortimer at home in California. Mortimer's house also pictured in images one and two.]
For her book, Carter sat down with disparate collecting couples and individuals, 19 in all, ranging from the "American Nomad," Doug Bihlmaier, who collects for personal pleasure as well as professionally for Ralph Lauren Corporation, to artist Tom Judd to fashion designer Minnie Mortimer.
[Mary Randolph Carter's own green desk is a three-dimensional scrapbook.]
[Just my own iPhone snap of the book.]
Above, here's a tiny peek at some hanging beads and an old June Carter and Johnny Cash poster on the Bihlmaier's scrapbooked bedroom wall. Long before he was a Ralph Lauren veteran, Bihlmaier had a passion for textiles, specifically trade blankets. As a junior high student in Kansas, he requested one for Christmas. The blanket arrived from L.L. Bean and further sparked an interest that still hasn't waned. Today, he is drawn to imperfect examples -- the sort often passed over by serious connoisseurs -- and he has a self-imposed $200 limit.
Many of the objects collected by Carter's interviewees are quite humble, by the way. Some of the pieces are simply found on the roadside or in the attic. If you're already acquainted with the author, you know she's drawn to things that others dismiss as junk.
[Doug DeLuca's creative approach to displaying his large assemblage of sailboat models.]
In others' cast-offs, she sees the potential to create a three-dimensional still life or visual poem with elements that rhyme and components that don't. So try not to stifle that childlike curiosity and desire to pick stuff up, Carter says, because at the very least what you gather will likely keep your rooms from looking just like your neighbor's.