Modern escapism: About things simple and hand-made

The topic of publishing my buddy Kai has been ranting about lately still makes me wonder. By chance, I came across an interesting phenomenon in the German publication scene called Landlust. The word that roughly translates as “lust for countryside” is the title of a massively successful magazine publication in Germany. In fact, with a circulation of more than 1 million copies every two months it is more widespread than the popular news magazine Der Spiegel. The question is of course: Why do articles about outdoor activities, rustic lifestyle in the countryside, farm animals and simple DIY recipes strike such a chord with so many people?

It feels as if the world we are dealing with at ecomPunk HQ – new commerce concepts, mobile and social applications etc. – has an increasingly stronger counterpart that we could subsume under “escapism”: leaving all the technology crap behind, finding relaxation, decelaration and inspiration in the countryside. People escape from modern life’s pace and cherish simple and authentic things. They turn their homes into cosy retreats and spend time crafting and cooking with their families. This neatly ties in with the “bio” trend and the urge to create and buy hand-made products – see the success of Etsy and Dawanda platforms. Quite ironically, the overarching theme of yearning for small, simple and good things in live has created a multi-billion global market (a nice example of repressive tolerance if anybody of you is into Marcuse.)

This motivation to move into an idealised environment is, of course, not a new one. Just have a look at the Wikipedia entry on Romanticism or drag out your old Byron or Wordsworth to see how nature, countryside and the feelings attached to this free, unrestricted life have had their effects on early 19th century thinking and writing.  Of course, now and then the way in which the countryside was and is portrayed is often misleading. As a recent Spiegel article (“Flucht in die Idylle”, #44/2012) nicely illustrates, Landlust paints a very idealistic image of living in the countryside which has almost nothing to do with reality. Farming very rarely takes place in picturesque little houses and fields but today means large-scale industrial production. Young people migrate to urban environments because they cannot find jobs in their rural “paradise”.

A side-effect of the escapism theme is the growth of local businesses: Dawanda’s Snuggery and the Manufactum stores present their products in a way in which they can be touched and looked at – just like in the old days. (Of course there are online stores – it’s a marketplace after all – but if you see the measly Landlust and Manufactum websites, you see that they aren’t top priority.) Others, such as Emmas Enkel also ride the “good-ole-times-wave”, but at least they try to tightly integrate online and offline world.

One question remains: Have you escaped today?

(Image by woozie2010, CC BY-SA 2.0)

One Response to Modern escapism: About things simple and hand-made

  1. jankolstee says:

    Time for some fairs , Magazines meets Commerce. In the Netherlands there are several fairs for this segment. Some of them have more then 40.000 visitors during a weekend. If you see these women cry when they see something zalando gets jalous.

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