Shell-by-Shell

We all learn at different paces and in different ways. The unchartered path to Design Awareness as illustrated through the life of Hermie the little hermit crab is where the understanding of Design develops in a manner analogous to the natural growth and evolution characteristic of living organisms.

In simple words, by bumping into walls, we start seeing the need for change.

This is Hermie, the little hermit crab.

Hermie does not have his own home, and has to live in empty shells that used to belong to others.

This shell protects Hermie from being eaten and has to fit snugly yet be spacious enough to allow him to fully coil inside when he needs to. The interiors must also be of the right dimension and shape to match Hermie’s size and curling needs so he can remain mobile when he hides. It also has to be in good condition, without holes so that the right moisture level crucial for Hermie’s survival is maintained.

The thing is, Hermie grows bigger every day!

Soon, this borrowed shell that used to fit him perfectly becomes too tight. He can barely move around in it. He starts feeling the walls on his flesh and begins to feel suffocated in his home. He needs a bigger space!

Now, Hermie needs to shell-up

Extremely uncomfortable, Hermie starts scavenging for a new, larger shell to live in. He will continue to do this every, single time he has gotten too big for his current home…


Lets Come back to the Human World …

Hermie’s shell can be likened to the space we choose to call our homes, whatever this may be:

Be it under a bridge on a carton box, a sofa in somebody’s living room, a bed in a dormitory, a bedroom in a shared apartment – it is foremost a basic shelter from the elements. Ideally, it is somewhere we can find comfort. If it is under a bridge, I hope the bridge has no holes so rainwater does not splash on my head. If it is a sofa, I hope it is long enough to fit the entire length of my body when I lie. If it is just a bed somewhere, I hope the mattress is firm with silky sheets to keep me warm.

Hopefully, ‘Home’ is not under a bridge…

No matter which it turns out to be, we have basic expectations of the space, and then we have personalised requirements of the space and this will differ person-to-person. As we journey through life from being a teenager, to being a young professional, to being part of a couple, to being part again of perhaps our own family – the space that takes on the shape, size and functionality of what we call ‘home’ inevitably evolves.

To each of us many, his own, they say.

Slowly, but surely, our needs as sentient beings expand, just like Hermie (at least it did, for me!)

Hermie will go through many shells in his lifetime in his continuous search for the next perfect shell every time he has grown too big for the current home. Thankfully, humans do not need to continuously search for new homes!

Within the category ‘Organic Expansion’, I document my human-version of this shell-searching-plus-upgrade experience – a natural journey of growth that screamed Design in my face, and made me see clearly all the #notjustdesign around us – all that I had taken for granted in the past when I had every functional space I needed without appreciating their significance.

As they say, one does not appreciate what they have till they have lost it.

Read on for the organic expansion experience of this human’s shell!

The writer is an Interior Designer sharing ‘shell-scavenging’ experiences and banal #notjustdesign ‘aha’ moments as holes, corners, and full-blown habitats are gradually outgrown as needs and wants inevitably change with the passing of time.