In Conversation With Paige Geffen
“To change the narrative on how we relate to our stuff” is the philosophy behind Paige Geffen’s Object & Us, a consultancy which seeks to redefine the individual’s relationship to their objects and spaces. A multi-talented creative director, interior designer, stylist and photographer, we sat down with Paige to talk about her creative life in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and her approach to finding balance and connection to the material world.
Where did you grow up and where is home for you now?
I grew up outside of Philadelphia, PA, and I honestly never really felt a resonance there. I lived in Los Angeles, CA for years, and it will always be a home base for me. In many ways, I “grew up” there (from ages 21 to 28). During this time I learned how to listen to myself, I made friends I consider family, I fell in love, I went through tremendous hardships, etc. I also decided to leave there, in order to continue to listen to myself. I now live in Santa Fe, NM, and in just over a year, it has become home to me. I think we can hold “home” in many different places and on many different levels. I ultimately feel that true home comes from within. I am home regardless of where I reside.
Describe your personality in a few words.
My first thought was, “that’s too hard to do.” I wonder what that says about me, haha. Fierce and also incredibly tender, goofy, dry, romantic.
Leo (sun), Libra (rising), Gemini (moon), and my Aquarius north node and Cancer midheaven feel significant to me as well.
Can you tell us about Object & Us and the inspiration behind it?
Object & Us teaches us how to interact with our physical surroundings in order to learn about and better connect to ourselves. When we look at how we relate to our external world, we open up a window into our internal one. The work itself is about this exploration as well as what we reinforce through practices, rituals, and ways of living, which create shifts on both the physical and metaphysical planes. It’s very important to me to change the narrative on how we relate to our stuff. We often associate the things we “own” with who we are - so our objects are symbols of identity. It’s much richer to live in a world where objects are instead tools for connection, and I don’t mean that in just the utilitarian sense. A vase can simply sit on a shelf, and we can learn a lot from it. Objects don’t have agendas, so we can really see our projections and uncover areas of misalignment and imbalance when we look at them, touch them, and work with them.
It was inspired by the place of tension I found myself in by being deeply concerned for the environment yet also loving aesthetics and interiors. I was sort of obsessed with this contradiction and decided to create harmony between them. Beauty and intention do not have to clash. They can coexist and also inform one another. I launched Object & Us while I didn’t have my own physical home and was extremely sick and dealing with a tremendous amount of chaos. The hardships I was enduring pushed me into deeper alignment and truth.
Do you have any treasured objects of your own?
I treasure so many of my objects, yet I try not to attach to them. A big part of my work with Object & Us is letting go of attachment without being in a place of full on detachment. That may seem contradictory, but aloofness has no place in the work. It's really about warmth and invitation. I got rid of all of my belongings prior to moving here, so I’m cultivating relationships with items that haven’t been in my life for very long.
Right now, a huge vessel that I use in a current personal practice of mine, are thrifted candlestick holders covered in melted beeswax. You can find these at Object & Us here.
Describe your prefect way to relax, unwind and restore?
A visit to Ten Thousand Waves here in Santa Fe. It's a Japanese spa, and as a local you can soak in the tubs and sweat in the sauna for $25 for as long as you want. They have a beautiful meditation room with floor pillows and headphones that play ambient music. I’ve fallen asleep in there many times. I also like to unwind with a cup of tea, a heating pad, and deep breaths. Not as romantic, but it does the trick.
How do you hold space for yourself?
I allow myself to honor where I am, even if it’s not where I want to be. I talk to my inner child and let her know I’m taking care of her. I cry. I let music and films take me to places that I may not otherwise be ready to venture to on my own. I journal. Writing is my most trusted practice. The words that come through when I put pen to paper are always much wiser than any thoughts I have.
What does ‘wellness’ mean to you?
For me right now, wellness is about simply listening. It’s honoring my needs and trying to do so within my means. Sometimes that may mean I have little resources. However, I am always a resource. I can always pause to tune into myself. I’m beginning to learn that wellness can often mean being practical and rational. I say that as a person with a wild imagination living mainly by my internal compass; however, grounding in reality is a very important tool. I want to also note that the known wellness sphere is widely a space by and for well-off, white people commoditizing off of its own privilege and inaccessibility. I recognize my privilege and access as I’m typing this and would like to note that I’m always learning and trying to do better. “Wellness” spaces and practices that marginalize, exclude, and harm others are very unwell. We live within a capitalist society and have to make money to survive; however, we must work to tear down and change the systems in place that uphold and perpetuate white supremacy.
Here are some BIPOC people/brands making waves that you can follow, support, and buy products/services from:
@sinikiwe.stephanie of @naaya.wellness
@sinikiwe.stephanie of @naaya.wellness
What is one piece of advice or tool you can suggest to improve self connection?
Touch. Touch your objects. Touch your own skin. The body holds so much wisdom, and this is a simple way to experience presence in order to access what is expressing internally on a deeper level.
You have the most beautiful effortless style. What are some of the items that you’re getting the most wear out of at the moment?
Wow, what a compliment - thank you. A camel coat from the 90’s that was once my mom’s, for slightly warmer days - a thrifted black knee-length leather jacket, layering tanks on top of oversized button-downs, white sneakers, brown snakeskin boots, forest green brogues. I think it's important to note that I own very little. I have mostly vintage items. The more expensive items I buy, I acquire incredibly intentionally, and I often wait for those items to go on major sale. I always let myself sleep on it and think about how each piece will live in my closet. I ask myself questions like “will I wear this 3+ times a week,” and “will I wear this when I’m 60?”.
We’d love to know your favourite smell or scent?
The air in New Mexico after it rains during monsoon season in the summer. I don’t think I’ve ever been so fond of a smell. As far as scents to wear - in the winter I wear Maison Louis Marie No. 10 Aboukir, and in the summer I let F. Miller body oil double as my “scent” - it’s really delicate and delicious.
What’s on the menu today?
I made roasted butternut squash/roasted rainbow carrot and ginger soup last night - with garlic, onions, thyme, olive oil, salt, and pepper. I will definitely be having leftovers for dinner.
Are there any podcasts or playlists on high rotation at your place?
Always. On Object & Us, there are many playlists if you search “mused.” While I do listen to playlists, I’m a bit old school and think people should listen to full albums more often, but what do I know. I generally will listen to a song or an album ad nauseam. Even if I overdo it, it’s like I cannot listen to anything else - like my being just needs the medicine. And then suddenly a new sound will grab my attention, and I’ll feel renewed and ready to move on. I’ve gotten really into podcasts this past year. Right now I’m completely devoted to Tarot for the Wild Soul with Lindsay Mack and Embodied Astrology with Renee Sills. On Being with Krista Tippett, Tara Brach, WTF with Marc Maron, and Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard are usually in rotation as well.
Is there something you miss?
I miss so much all of the time. I’m incredibly nostalgic. Longing holds a lot of attraction for me. Right now, I miss the ocean the most.
What are you most looking forward to?
The feeling of the sun on my skin in Spring/Summer, and continuing to find freedom in places of seeming restriction.
Photography | Paige Geffen