It’s ironic that the concept of mindfulness is terribly buzzy these days: mindfulness is about the anti-buzz. But bear with me here, because it seems to me that mindfulness is at the heart of AltLuxe. (And yes, the more serious leaders in the mindfulness movement, folks like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Gil Fronsdahl and Jack Kornfield would likely squirm at my applying it to notions of luxury and consumption, but oh well.)

Mindfulness is, at its core, about awareness of what is going on, primarily as it relates to your mind, but also about how you’re feeling, your emotions, and what’s going on about you. And the foundation of awareness lies in stepping back, noticing and noting.

And that’s the biggest intersection between mindfulness and AltLuxe: the noticing. Taking the time to step back and notice the details and how their sum makes you feel. It can be physical details (the stitch and placement of the handle on a Tods or a Basil Racuk leather bag, the intricate yet subtle draping on a pair of Maria Cornejo pants, the crackle glaze on a hand-thrown ceramic bottle or teacup by Peggy Loudon.)

Bottles by Peggy Loudon

Bottles by Peggy Loudon

It can be story: the chances taken in life by the designer or maker, the source of the materials, the silly and subtle thing that inspired the dress, the sofa, the preserves.

It’s about noticing.

Noticing comes from practice and from intention. I once took a class in high school taught by an erudite, quirky and slightly forbidding man named Jack Eyerly who nonetheless had quite the cult following. Being one of those people who can get it into their head to NOT follow the fads and crowds, I decided that I wouldn’t take to him. As a result, I can’t recall the name of the class I did take with him nor what the class was about. But the one thing I do remember: his focus on noticing and noting. The discipline that I learned in the class sticks with me.

Lake Tahoe 2013

Variations on wood: bumps on a log

And god knows, I’m not a person who is particularly prone to creating finely detailed things. But I do notice them. And the world became a more beautiful, interesting place because of it.

Noticing forces you beyond the superficial, to go beyond the branding and the blinging. It forces stillness. It forces a pause. And that in that pause, you can decide whether this really speaks to you (whether it’s the story, the object, or the context), for what it is, and for what it means in your life.

And yes, it means that you may rethink whether to buy (good for the wallet), or find some detail that gets you so obsessed that you have to buy something you didn’t mean to (less good, but guaranteed to bring you an unseemly amount of pleasure for longer than you think.)

But that pleasure? That’s the AltLuxe.