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Mess appeal: Who is Marie Kondo and why does she want me to throw away stuff?

We find out more about the decluttering guru behind the Netflix series Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.

Mess appeal: Who is Marie Kondo and why does she want me to throw away stuff?

Marie Kondo likes to keep things neat. (Photo: Netflix)

Hoarders, collectors and regular homeowners are now frantically decluttering their lives, thanks to a new Netflix series, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, which debuted on Jan 1.

The series sees Kondo, a 34-year-old organising consultant and bestselling author from Japan, urging homeowners to practice her trademarked KonMari Method of sorting their piles of clothing, books and even sentimental items. 

Marie Kondo wants you to clean up your mess now! (Photo: Twitter/@rebtool)

The eight-episode series has attracted a massive following, with her “Konverts” eagerly showing what they’ve picked up from the show, though with varying levels of success.

Kondo began tidying up at the age of five, when she obsessively cleaned “first my room, then my sister’s room, then my friend’s room, another friend’s room”.

There lies a certain spirituality about her self-discipline, perhaps from the five years she spent as an attendant maiden at a Shinto shrine.

In one interview, Kondo recalled a particular fainting spell at 15, when she heard a “mysterious voice, like some god of tidying telling me to look at my things more closely.”

“I realised my mistake: I was only looking for things to throw out. What I should be doing is finding the things I want to keep. Identifying the things that make you happy: that is the work of tidying,” said Kondo, who is married to her manager, Takumi Kawahara, and has two daughters, ages three and two.

Kondo, who also landed in Time's list of 100 most influential people in 2015, founded her organising consulting business KonMari at the age of 19. 

According to the consultancy’s website, “The KonMari Method encourages tidying by category – not by location – beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and, finally, sentimental items.”

Japanese author and creator of the KonMari Method to declutter, Marie Kondo, poses with one of books for a fan's photograph during a book signing at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Film Interactive Festival 2017 in Austin, Texas, USA. (Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

“Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service – then let them go.”

“Sparking joy” is an oft-repeated concept on Kondo’s Netflix series, outlined by Kondo herself at the start of her series’ teaser video.

“Hello, I’m Marie Kondo. My mission is to spark joy in the world through cleaning.”

Naturally, the phrase has sparked memes and quips on Twitter, fuelled by various new year’s resolutions of self-care, decluttering and even political activism.

Learning the (possibly) cosmic laws behind sparking joy, however, could see you put away US$2,200 (S$2,974).

To become a certified KonMari Consultant at your earliest convenience, the consultancy is selling tickets to a New York engagement in late-March that will be attended by Kondo herself.

The three-day seminar “will be led by certified gold Consultants, Patty Morrissey and Eliette and Marieke Staub,” and is “vital in preparing you for the next step of certification”.

“We will expand on the KonMari Method and the importance of adhering to its principles and categories. We will also teach candidates how to work with clients. The seminar includes a mix of lectures, group discussions and Q&A sessions.”

Truly a steal for a chance at entering a global clan of organisers. Quite like the Illuminati, but with dustpans.

Kondo’s impact on the show’s families, however, is undeniable.

Los Angeles Times compared the minimalist maven to Mary Poppins, “armed in a uniform of spotless snow-white sweaters and floaty skirts and cheerfully bearing an armload of nested boxes”.

“When she departs, she leaves in her wake a beatifically serene family, secure in the knowledge that the carefully folded drawer contents and meticulously organised home will definitely, for sure, always look that way.”

Us? We're just hoping we can finish sorting our room before Netflix announces a second season.

Source: CNA/mm