Japanese Organizing Consultant Marie Kondo Takes America By Storm

Jan 7, 2016
Originally published on January 8, 2016 1:00 pm
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Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's a week into 2016 and perhaps time to see how these New Year's resolutions are coming. If your resolutions included decluttering, a book out this week hopes to capitalize on that. NPR's Lauren Migaki has more.

LAUREN MIGAKI, BYLINE: Millions of people bought Marie Kondo's first book, "The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up." The young author has celebrity clients. She's spoken at Google.

MARIE KONDO: My Marie Kondo. Call me KonMari. I am a Japanese organizing consultant.

MIGAKI: She's been called the Beyonce of organizing.

KONDO: (Speaking Japanese).

MIGAKI: An Internet video of her folding socks has more than 1.5 million views. So what is it about Marie Kondo that's got everyone so eager to tackle their closets?

BARRY YOURGRAU: Her message is simply to retain things that spark joy and get rid of everything else.

MIGAKI: That's Barry Yourgrau, author of a book about clutter. He recently profiled Marie Kondo for The New Yorker. He says part of the allure is her method -- the KonMari method. It involves holding an object and asking, does this bring me joy?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Ask yourself, does this really bring me...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'm not asking myself anything.

MIGAKI: That's just one of the many online videos uploaded by KonMari followers.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And keeping those. My chomplas (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Honey.

MIGAKI: But it's not straight to the garbage if there's no joy.

YOURGRAU: She has a whole little ceremonial of saying goodbye to things that you throw out. This little au revoir is kiss your socks goodbye because one of the huge issues in people decluttering is the inability to let go.

MIGAKI: Yourgrau points out Marie Kondo's ideas aren't groundbreaking. She just sells it really well.

YOURGRAU: She's deeply charming in a charismatic way. One of the things the editor thought when he first encountered her was, this person is going to be sensational on television. And she was. She makes a tremendously compelling presence.

MIGAKI: Compelling enough for MORNING EDITION producer Emily Ochenschlager to try KonMari-ing (ph) her home for the new year.

JOSH FURMAN: All of them?

MIGAKI: Emily, her dog and her fiance Josh Furman share a 550-square-foot home.

EMILY OCHENSCHLAGER: I've never liked this coat.

FURMAN: Here is another winter dress coat that I have.

MIGAKI: They're KonMari-ing (ph) their jacket collection...

OCHENSCHLAGER: Does this bring joy?

FURMAN: It really should.

MIGAKI: ...And having a little trouble defining joy.

OCHENSCHLAGER: I mean, I feel like I could find joy in anything I own.

MIGAKI: And the KonMari method isn't without its critics. Author Barry Yourgrau calls the suggestion to get rid of unread books barbaric.

YOURGRAU: She said, if you haven't read it yet, you're not going to read it, which is just rubbish. I mean, there are many books I've had that I've looked at for five, 10 years, and then one day I open them, and I fall in love with them.

MIGAKI: And, of course, there are a couple items that just might not pass the KonMari joy-sparking test but should probably be held onto anyways. Tax documents, unpaid parking tickets, divorce papers - all come to mind. Marie Kondo's new book is called "Spark Joy." Lauren Migaki, NPR News.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

I'm just thinking about my cluttered office right now and really, very sad about it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.