As home automation and smart home technologies change the world’s homelives for the better, they mix differently with the lifestyles and traditions of different countries and cultures. We are looking at how the positive changes brought about by these innovations benefit the existing homelife traditions of cultures around the world, starting with The Netherlands and Niksen.
The Netherlands – Niksen
It’s no accident that the Netherlands is one of the happiest countries in the world, but how can home automation and a great Dutch tradition help Brits achieve contentment, too?
According to author Olga Mecking, “Niksen is not a form of meditation, nor is it a state of laziness or boredom. It's not … wondering what you're going to cook for dinner. Rather, to niks is to make a conscious choice to sit back, let go, and do nothing at all.”
How can home automation help the Dutch and Brits to engage in the great habit of Niksen, or conscientious relaxation?
Smart homes take on more and more chores by the day, as well as being able to enter a complete do-not-disturb mode on command. This makes them a haven of the kind of decisive relaxation that the Dutch do so well, and we need so much.
Lang leve Niksen! Long live Niksen
Colombia – Fiestas Familiars
What better way to celebrate the approach of Christmas than to look at the amazing festive traditions of Colombia? Here, fiestas familiars involving lights, families, and friends are the order of the day year-round. If you think this might dilute the special atmosphere of Christmas, you couldn’t be more wrong, either. Festive season celebrations in this country are something else, from Medellin’s world-renowned Alumbrados Navideños, or Christmas illuminations to the decorations that adorn almost every street throughout December.
You might have heard of the term ‘any excuse for a party’. Well, the people of Colombia embody this phrase more than almost any other nation, bringing the whole family around and decorating the house like it’s 1999 for any reason. Every birthday deserves a big party, even the ones you missed because the person was away. Speaking of which, return from a trip? Cue the big party, and probably another for the people who missed the first one, right before you plan when you’re throwing your belated birthday. One of our staff members has a one-year-old Colombian nephew who enjoyed a party with full decorations and visitors every month on the date of his birth.
If we took a holiday ...
On top of this, depending on where you live, you can get up to 18 bank holidays in Colombia, most of which you will spend partying or decorating in preparation for a party. For comparison, the UK has a piffling eight.
We’re not talking about wheeling the same dusty old decorations out every few weeks either. Colombians take pride in having a new theme complete with a new set of decs for each event. With all these changes of décor, smart lighting and scene creation can go along way in the South American country. Not only could they make life vastly easier and save hours (more time to party with). They could presumably pay for themselves in saved decorations in no time at all.
In a country where impressive decorations are a major source of pride, we can only imagine that the ability to transform rooms into discos, ice palaces or fiery fiesta fortresses at the push of a button would be a great thing to have. Trust us, even in the UK, seeing the amazed look on your guests’ faces when they see your living room or dining room transform in a second is priceless. Whether you’re British or Colombian, smart lighting and sound can take your parties to the next level while making life much easier.
Ethiopia – Shared Space
In Ethiopia, space is often shared among families and close friends with little personal room. In the past, it was assumed that this was done out of necessity. As recently as the turn of the millennium, Ethiopia ranked among the poorest countries in the world per capita. Living in these impoverished conditions meant rarely having time or space to oneself, but was it necessity or preference that prevented people from being alone?
In the UK and many other Eurasian/American cultures, having some ‘me time’ is seen as an essential part of our day-to-day lives. In fact, the smart home designs and revamps Baker Stone is involved in often include briefs to create space and time for stressed, busy homeowners to unwind. The idea of voluntarily trading in this precious alone time for even more time with big groups of family and friends would probably seem ridiculous to many Brits. However, that’s not the case in Ethiopia.
After the economic miracle that kicked off the 21st century in the country though, many people have much more money and space. Despite this, most Ethiopian families from all walks of life still share their personal room joyously. Coming out of the other side of over a decade of amazing 10% year-on-year growth, the country’s population of large families still enjoy life close together.
Smart space sharing
How can smart home innovations improve the homelives of families a little more than Africa’s ‘economic miracle’ already has?
Well, Baker Stone and other automators spend plenty of time creating new places for families to come together and things for them to do. Smart home cinemas are increasingly popular among those who have the money to buy them. These innovations may well become a must-have for elite Ethiopian film lovers, while those who steer clear of the celluloid can opt for more diverse media rooms or smart family rooms. Meanwhile, there is a huge range of smart technology devoted to using space effectively, from smart blinds and curtains to smart gardening devices and cooking appliances that save space and time doing chores.
The USA – Big Screen Sports
You don’t have to be American to be familiar with the country’s love of big-screen sports, or the tradition of getting together with friends, snacks and beer to watch them. Films and TV series have exported the cultural trope to the world, not to mention the countries where people always enjoyed similar pastimes, from Britain to Brazil.
Nowhere is the undertaking as well defined as the US of A though. Here, the baseball World Series and basketball’s NBA Finals compete for second place behind the established MVP of big screen sports events, the Superbowl.
Whatever the sport, men, women and teenagers start planning their weekends around the huge events weeks in advance. The level of commotion can only be compared to occasional international competitions like the World Cup in other countries. Yet every year, when the weekend arrives, groups make their pilgrimages to the chosen friend’s house with beers and tasty snacks to feast on throughout the game.
A quick tip: If you want to be the host or hostess with the most(est) in the US, invest in a big TV. This is almost as true in England as it is across the Atlantic. However, it’s no coincidence that the ‘home of the free’ is also the home of the home cinema, or that American audio-visual manufacturers roll out the sales in the lead-up to the Superbowl. Perhaps Britain’s would-be hosts can learn a few lessons from their American Amigos in the lead-up to the Olympics and Euros next year.
Whether you have been inspired to use your smart techs in a certain way or simply enjoyed learning about some other cultures, we hope you have appreciated this article as much as we appreciated writing it.