"When the post-Depression years left shoppers skittish and merchants without much business, manufacturers had to innovate and devise new ways to jolt the economy back to life. And so began the beginning of an era that is still aggressively alive today: consumerism. New materials like vinyl, chrome, aluminum, and plywood excited customers again, and products became sleek and attractive in ways they hadn’t been before."
These images, taken by the young Swedish photographer Sannah Kvist, seem to bear that out—snapshots of Millennials surrounded by all of their worldly possessions, which generally occupy no more than the corner of a room. The “All I Own” series stems from Kvist’s personal struggle with consumerism: “I had lived for 23 years when I took the photo of me and everything I owned and thought it was a sad collection of junk I’ve managed to buy,” she tells Co.Design. Similarly, the friends and acquaintances she has photographed since then have been amazed by “how much shit they actually owned.” (If you’ve moved recently, you’re probably familiar with that feeling.) “I think most people actually got an eye-opener when they built the piles.”
Is our consumer culture, focused on the constant purchasing of disposable goods, destroying our civilization? Quite possibly! But it’s also, apparently, making us live longer and healthier lives. Researchers in Taiwan recently completed a study that shows that elderly men and women who shopped once a week or more were 27% less likely to die than those who shopped less frequently.
Finally the words you have been waiting to hear, “Shop ‘til you drop!” Well, I suppose according to the research, shopping doesn’t make you drop quite as fast as not shopping. Did you catch that? Feel free to bust out your wallet at any time while reading this. You can start right here with your very own subscription to Fast Company!