Marie Kondo Wants You to Buy More Boxes

dog in a box

To be precise, her specially branded ones for only $89 for a set of three!

Marie Kondo, the Japanese organizational guru who inspired so many millions of people to clear their houses of unloved clutter, is now selling shoeboxes. If this seems like an odd direction for someone so dedicated to ridding one's space of unnecessary crap, these aren't just any old shoeboxes; these are Hikidashi boxes, whose name means "to draw out" in Japanese. (I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it sounds suspiciously like drawing out getting rid of things because you now have a beautiful place to store them.)

Kondo, however, seems to think these boxes are fabulous and necessary. A self-proclaimed "box fanatic," she has said in the past that finding boxes is always a challenge in American houses, which is why she would fill suitcases with boxes in Japan before flying to the U.S. (I don't know what kind of houses she was visiting, but boxes seem to multiply in mine.)

She also found that American adherents of her KonMari folding method were unable to keep their clothes quite as neat as she intended. They'd start out doing well, but then had difficulty maintaining the perfect folding and stacking. Said Kondo's VP of product marketing, Cheryl Tan,

“We knew that was a pain point we wanted to solve. It’s helpful to have a divider in your drawer to keep everything lovely and lined up.”

Hence, the launch of the Hikidashi boxes, which, like I said, are no ordinary shoeboxes. These have been designed in part by Cecylia Ferrandon, who worked in Apple's packaging design for eight years before joining Kondo's team. The result is a set of boxes that fit together with no visible seams. Katharine Schwab, who got a sneak preview before their official launch in September of this year, described them for Fast Company:

"They’re made of reinforced fiberboard composed of recycled paper and then covered with a silky smooth, luscious paper that makes me want to run my hands all over them – and all the materials are FSC certified, meaning they come from responsibly managed forests. While these boxes probably won’t last as long as plastic ones on your shelves or eventually in a landfill, they do feel structurally sound and far sturdier than most other paper boxes I’ve encountered... And of course, each is designed to spark joy: While the outside of each box is white, the interiors have serene watercolor patterns and inspirational quotes from Kondo like, 'Make your life shine.'"

OK, they sound lovely, and they do look beautiful in the pictures Schwab posted (see them here). But this triple set of empty boxes costs $89, and its sole purpose in life is to hold folded clothes somewhat more neatly than a regular drawer divider or (dare I say it?) a shoebox could. So, why? It seems utterly ridiculous, when you look past the pretty designs and quotes. Schwab calls it aspirational marketing at its finest:

"It takes an incredibly strong brand to sell a set of empty boxes – especially a set of empty boxes priced at $89, which are available for preorder today and begin shipping in September."

An article for Condé Nast is sharper with its words, suggesting that the online guide that comes along with a purchase of the Hikidashi boxes and offers guidance through day-to-day home organization is perhaps "the best thing you're paying for." And instead of spending $89 on three empty boxes, how about putting that toward a pair of shoes you love and getting a free box for the same price? Hmmm...

I've got to say, Kondo's let me down on this one. She has never professed to be a minimalist, but that was often the unintentional (and beneficial) result of her method -- the purging of over half of one's possessions in order to make room for the things that "spark joy." I don't need more help with organization, and I suspect this holds true for many other people, too. What's needed is less stuff -- fewer clothes stuffed into those dresser drawers overall. The less stuff there is, the less need for finicky organizational tools and gadgets like these silly boxes.