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Is the rise of storage units costing us dear?

There’s a word that strikes fear into many a man, myself included, and that word is ‘storage’. It’s a word I heard all too often when I was moving house, and it’s one of those things Mrs Simms feels she has to comment on in friends’ houses when she notes that they have lots of it. Storage, it seems to me, always refers to what might have been a usefully big sized room, partitioned to the least aesthetically pleasing effect, and with the final insult of an ugly MDF door thrown across the front with the least possible regard for design, ergonomics and decorative intent.

Now, I’d be the first to admit that my office isn’t always as tidy as it could be. Of course I have the best of intentions, trying to make sure that whatever comes out during the working day is put neatly away at the end of the working day. But inevitably there are occasions when the working day goes on and on, and once we get into the evening I’m far too focused on a rumbling stomach to even consider tidying up. Put three or four of those days together, and the mountain of paperwork and products can overflow out of the door. That’s the point where I have to look at either tidying it up or shipping it out.

Life can present similar clutter challenges. It’s all too easy to acquire more ‘stuff’ but very difficult to bring ourselves to throw it out. That vital kitchen appliance might have sat at the back of the cupboard for years, but even when a new kitchen appliance means that cupboard space is urgently required, it’s very difficult to dispose of the shelf hogger. But once you’ve filled the loft and the garage, where is there left to go?

No surprise, then, to see the rise of the storage unit, and it’s become almost routine practice to take out long term options on units for use as an overflow. We’ll use them for all sorts of reasons from a personal point of view, perhaps because a sense of nostalgia or sentimental attachment are preventing us from throwing products out (or recycling them), perhaps because we genuinely feel that these products will be useful once again at some point in the future. There is also a growing trend for businesses to make use of storage units. Ebay shops have to put all of those Chinese imports somewhere, small charities can only accommodate so many toys and games in their front rooms, and for offices they offer a convenient overflow for paperwork that you really can’t afford to get rid of.

 All of that is fine, but what happens when overflow becomes an accepted way of life? The modern business needs to be creative, innovative, dynamic, flexible and adaptable. Clutter and storage, it seems to me, would be the antithesis of those worthy attributes. How can we embrace the new and the bold when we can’t free ourselves from the old and the tired? I’m going to suggest that, in the fast paced world of engineering design, an excessive reliance on storage is costing us more than we care to admit, and slowing us down more than we imagine.

Mark Simms Editor

 
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