(See: Anyone_At_Home on Instagram)

I love using Instagram; it is direct, fun, creative and, yes – inspiring.

A flicker of image, an instant connection; this is how modern-day storytelling works.

Insta enables anyone to communicate their ideas with the world. It is a hugely liberating and powerful platform, which makes it a great leveller.

While it’s true most of the images and ideas are not going to change to world… some might.

Every instagram post is a window into someone, somewhere.

On Instagram I love the juxtaposition of the weird and wonderful, the daft and the pointless.

Instagram draws from a mind-boggling range of uploaded images and experiences, people and places. It is a massive ‘live’ repository of who we are – and who we think we are – today.

There are people I follow, in whose lives and posts I am genuinely interested. And… then there are the ones the Insta algorithm chooses for me.

Currently, my Insta algorithm sends me a mix of video and images of… campervans, ‘Karens’, Modern Family, The Office and cats. Even if I scroll past quickly for sure, the algorithm will come right back with more stories to hook me in.

It only takes an instant to be diverted into the Instagram world.

For me it is a world of puppies, holidays, drinks, TV shows, DIY makeovers, celebrity interviews, badly parked cars, car crashes. All things I didn’t know I needed to know.

A distraction can easily become an addiction. The thrill of “likes”, the joy of expanding ideas and connections… all this, all that.

And then of course there are all the influencers, paid subscribers and promotional ads. On Insta it is sometimes hard to distinguish what is real, and what is not. I think I can tell – but not always…

On Instagram, anyone who can take photo can tell a story.

And all it takes it that one image to somehow (and instantly) dig deep into people’s psyche and consciousness. To hook you in.

That is what makes it such a hugely accessible, successful – and mighty – tool of persuasion.

When I worked in academia it was fight for me to be allowed to use images. Academia favours the hard rigour of the densely written word. Visuals are for illustrative purposes only.

However, in more creative sectors, the photo essay is a legitimate form of discussion and thought. Creative people prefer to communicate with visual ideas. Visual literacy is knowing how to use images well; with mastery and manipulation.

I couldn’t ever imagine this website Anyone At Home without images.

Each story is of an experience lived in place and space.

The interview tells the story, and the images provide the all-important spatial locus. The story – what that space looks like, and how it came to be – resonates somewhere between the images and words.

On Instagram I can extract a random image from the interviews.

On its own the image, says something. It makes a specific point. A simple idea/thought/concept put out there, for the world to see – or not!

Fleeting or routine experiences may seem irrelevant or inconsequential, but these things matter.

In some ways random visual ideas more truly reflect the spirit and personality of the respondent and their home than the interview as a whole. But I do think they work well together.

For me, it’s just another means of expression. It is both data and content.

Everyday life at home is not mundane, it is visually and emotionally rich.

‘Home’ is a complex component of experiences.

Everything in it is there for a different reason, perhaps chosen at different stages of our lives.

Every day we get older, one moment passes into another, days, months, years. Each interview on Anyone At Home is only ever going to be a snapshot, a glimpse of someone’s home – and life – as a moment in time.

A time that has been… and gone.

Behind the closed doors of our home is our world – a place that few people ever get to see.

We like to keep old photos to remind us of events, and people and places, but we rarely take pictures of how our home.

Our home changes all the time in very subtle ways. Changes that occur naturally, seasonally and over the course of the day.

Not just because of a big design makeover.

In my home today ( September) it is sunny. I can see spider’s webs have appeared overnight both inside and outside. There are courgettes and beans in the kitchen picked from my garden. I have clean laundry piled up from a weekend away and a new blue throw to protect the armchair from the cat’s hairs. There are dishes drying by the sink and old flowers in a vase that may need to be binned.

In 3 months time the space may look much the same, but not.

I know that the light will extend more deeply into the rooms and the curtains will be pulled earlier, the heating ( may/ may not) go on. The doors and windows are likely to be closed all day, every day.

As time goes on the indoor plants will get bigger, or die. Things will get broken and replaced. And of course, there will be a Christmas tree in the corner, which means the furniture in the living room will be temporarily rearranged.

Once Christmas is over, things will return to normal – again. Again.

With Instagram, more and more people seem to live for the perfect image.

Instagrammable  interiors are spaces designed as backdrops, places created specifically to look different – and quirky.

And nowhere is this more apparent than in hospitality.

Interiors have to be talking points – and ‘Unique’. They have to go beyond the “wow” factor into the hyper-real. What is  reality?

Spaces have to attract customers just so they can have their photograph taken. Just so they capture ‘a moment’ of being there that looks good on Instagram.

And because of Instagram, so the interior is instantly recognisable, the colour and lighting will have to be super-theatrical/ cinematic.

Interiors are no longer spaces for being (in the moment).

We are now in the realm where  interior design and marketing overlap in the physical world.

An interior space has to work hard to market itself visually just so it will be picked up by Instagrammers – and shared.

To stand out from the other places an interior cannot be subtle. It needs to draw people (and their phones).

It needs to be place where Instagrammers will want to go, so they get the Instagram seal of approval. The place looks good, they look good – everybody’s happy!

Just stand ‘here’ to get the perfect shot!

Anyone At Home is the opposite of all that.

It aims to dig deeper in the why’s and wherefore’s of interior spaces and experiences.

On this website some of the photos were taken by me, others were taken by respondents.

Interviewees may well have tidied up beforehand so their home looks its best. That is their choice. They show their home in the way they want it to be seen.

On Instagram each post/story will be enhanced, re-coloured, cropped and in some cases animated with words and music added.

The message is writ large.

I use Instagram to reach out to a wider audience with a a message that is bold and designed to catch (someone’s) eye because I want to draw them to the deeper, wider thoughts of Anyone At Home.

Each Instagram post works on its own.

There is an idea there…

When it appears fleetingly on someone’s Insta feed it may catch their eye and enter their consciousness where it may connect with their own lived experience of home.

It may be just a thought, an image, a word… a  life.

But it connects us to a real place, a real space and a real home.

Home, it is not just a visual backdrop, it is a lived experience.

Nuala Rooney

I am designer, educator and researcher developing creative and holistic human-centred insights within the social/spatial sphere.

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