While other children were busy collecting seashells, comics, or stuffed animals, organization consultant Marie Quéru spent hours going through her drawers, assessing the interest of a toy, book, or even memorabilia.
“I had a real passion for inventory,” confesses the 44-year-old Parisian, who coined—and trademarked—the term “Écologie d’Intérieur” (or Interior Ecology, in English) to describe her approach to objects and consumption.
Now, an adult best known to her 40,000 Instagram followers as @larrangeuse (or The Arranger), she has turned this early ability to assess the place of objects in her life into a five-step protocol and career as a consultant for private clients, companies and even brands, who come to her for help to create elegantly curated and functional spaces.
But don’t cast Quéru as the cleaning queen of France. “Just because I’m naturally tidy doesn’t mean I love putting things away or that it’s easy for me. I’m lazy and I hate it as much as anyone else,” she says with a laugh.
The real reason why putting your home and work space in order is easy is that Quéru has fewer objects than most, the result of that early detachment from material goods.
And that is what he tries to share through Interior Ecology, that it is not so much about organizing belongings as about “changing the relationship with objects and beyond, with consumption”, according to Quéru.
Changing those ideas starts with “understanding that ‘too much’ equals visual, mental, and environmental pollution,” she explains, noting that the antidotes are respectively “beauty, practicality, and durability.”
For her own journey from calling to career, she took the scenic route.
After studying agricultural engineering and earning a master’s degree in marketing at the ESSEC Business School in ParisQuéru began his career in brand identity and strategy consulting at design agencies, before veering into brand strategy and eventually becoming association manager for luxury and home at the Spring department store.
Over the years, her nearest and dearest saw her ability to get rid of things no longer necessary to her life as a quirk that brought mild banter, and even a mention during her wedding speeches.
“When you talk about neat people, there are often negative connotations about being obsessive-compulsive or psychorigid and I saw that for a long time. [in myself] as a form of neurosis”, he laments, unable in previous years to articulate his indifferent relationship with objects.
Even so, he couldn’t help but become increasingly aware that consumer society created an endless feedback loop of frustration and excess. After researching famous organizational methods that reassured Quéru that she wasn’t alone in finding a jarring disconnect between “maximum things” and rising levels of unhappiness, her scientific background kicked in.
The a-ha moment was the realization that “our brain is still hardwired to hoard, so it finds all sorts of excuses to make us keep an item for the wrong reasons,” he explains, calling this the fundamental cognitive bias of our species. , since evolution favored those who had better access to supplies and other goods to ensure their survival.
Hence the word “ecology”, since his approach revolves around a tripartite relationship between people, their things and the environment. With requests starting to pour in, she created L’Arrangeuse in 2019, to offer services to private clients looking for a helping hand.
When COVID-19 hit, sorting and sorting became a hot topic during lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, a time Quéru calls a “double wake-up call” that brings people face-to-face and up-close. with clutter: material and immaterial, which might be overlooked in busy lives.
It turns out that the joke was on Quéru’s detractors all along. “We were taught and encouraged to consume, but we never learned how to deal with our possessions,” she notes, adding that rewiring your brain to stop looking for the rush of incoming new things doesn’t mean going through joyless hardship.
Even for those who are not yet ready to reflect too much on how and why they consume, Quéru’s protocol offers an immediate benefit: a sense of space, even for smaller surfaces.
Case in point: The light-filled, airy-looking Parisian apartment that’s the star of her Instagram account and home to her family of four and one cat, spanning 650 square feet.
“The reality is that we don’t need a lot of floor space to feel like space,” he says, pointing out how the simplest gestures, like storing unsightly kitchen appliances in an easily accessible space when not in use, can have an impact. immediate since “you free up space but you also gain time, efficiency, agility because you know exactly where things are, how to access them and save them after use”.
Between the average house full of just-in-case options and the clear spaces seen on Quéru’s Instagram account there are five steps.
First comes idealization, which is equivalent to taking stock of the situation and setting a goal. Then, visualize the spillover and where the weak points are. Then comes the rationalization, at which point Quéru offers simple advice: when in doubt, there is no question and the item goes out, preferably donated or recycled. Once this is done, he begins the reorganization, to put things away.
The final step is editing, which she summarizes as “developing a Lifestyle that reconciles sufficiency and pleasure.” Once there, she’ll be home free from future clutter.
Quéru insists that each person must develop a Lifestyle that matches your tastes, not hers. They also shouldn’t throw away items just for the sake of reducing them.
Because Interior Ecology is not minimalism, under any circumstances. “[Organizing] it doesn’t have to be pleasure through overconsumption or punitive asceticism, in some eco-angst cliché, degrowth,” he says, preferring the word sufficiency to sobriety to describe that fair level of possession. Not to mention that “it’s not about numbers, it’s about finding what your essentials are.”
It seems like more common sense than anything else, especially with Quéru’s kind and no-nonsense explanations, which have now become a 214-page book published in French in October by technology and education publisher Eyrolles.
Above all, Quéru sees all this as a form of self-care that starts from accepting that everything around us is “the sum of all our choices”, whether they are purchases or gifts.
Grab those tote bags and other knick-knacks we seem to be hoarding without meaning to. “Just say no,” says Quéru, who hopes seeing her reject unsolicited samples and gifts from her will help others break the habit of accepting them, either out of thoughtlessness or fear of appearing rude.
“Those gifts are not free. Someone is paying for them, whether it’s the person who made them or the environment,” he says, calling reusable bags “public enemy number one.”
A corollary to this is that material objects may be the more visible side, but Inner Ecology can be applied in a variety of fields, including time management, one’s relationship with food, and even to help combat change. climate.
“It’s about a way of life that makes us happier and respects the limits of the planet,” she says, a firm believer in change through individual and collective effort.
Letting go of frustration or guilt is also an important part of the process. “The real waste would be not learning from past elections, especially if they were mistakes,” says Quéru. “Once you are surrounded by objects that you would reach for without hesitation, every choice is the right choice.”