What Matters to Hardeep Kaur

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Debbie Millman has an ongoing project at PRINT titled “What Matters.” This is an effort to understand the interior life of artists, designers, and creative thinkers. This facet of the project is a request of each invited respondent to answer ten identical questions and submit a nonprofessional photograph.

Hardeep Kaur is a designer, podcast host, and founder of London studio per se. She’s interested in the perfect madeleine, the fundamental nature of reality, and products that help people live with meaning.

What is the thing you like doing most in the world?

Being alive.

What is the first memory you have of being creative?

Reading fiction, getting lost in make-believe worlds co-created with the author, their words unleashed in my imagination, translating into vivid images and emotion-scapes— this is my first true memory of what creativity felt like. Of literal hands-on craft, I vividly remember creating topic related scrapbooks at school— unwieldy, A3 tomes made of colored sugar paper, full of research— stories, images, lore, and history. I remember a project on ancient Egypt to this day. My love of curation, of piecing together, and creating, narratives, perhaps has roots back to experiences such as these. I was not the typical artist or poet, but the observer who wondered amongst a sea of surface difference, what made things alike?

What is your biggest regret?

I contemplated this question for some time. The should haves, could haves, what ifs of previous moments threaten our peace of mind. But this idea that things could have been otherwise is a fallacy. Cause and effect is the densest enigma of all— with finite information, on we must go, however imperfectly or perfectly. The beauty is that we are presented continually with brand new moments, to try again, and to interact with life with ever deeper levels of awareness. I have come to know that what presents as regret is a stepping stone to self-knowledge and wisdom.

How have you gotten over heartbreak?

Like a storm— the only way is to let it pass through and hope there is enough left intact thereafter with which to rebuild. Beauty, too, is a great tonic.

What makes you cry?

Observing love, observing suffering. I have a propensity to be moved fairly often. So if, for a moment, I hesitate before making eye contact, I may be cycling out of one such moment.

How long does the pride and joy of accomplishing something last for you?

I have lived many lives at this point, dabbled across so many things, that often I am tickled by it all. Bubbles of joy will flit into my consciousness during random moments of recollection, and I’ll be moved to gratitude and pride. It also depends on the nature of the accomplishment. Sanding and varnishing my kitchen worktops? Two years on and I’m still jolly chuffed with that feat. Launching my own design projects, be it physical products, a magazine, a podcast? That joy of accomplishment lives on perennially because I am fundamentally changed for having undertaken that endeavor. Both my capacity for joy and gratitude that I get to create in such a way also increase with each new game I get to play.

Do you believe in an afterlife, and if so, what does that look like to you?

Life flows on; there is no before and after, but rather the changing of forms. Even that only occurs on a surface level. The act and art of living is more than enough to focus upon, that I would preserve my beliefs for the here and now— the belief that we all possess the ability and right to flourish and reach our potential, both individually and collectively.

What do you hate most about yourself?

I do not work with hate. There will be moments of frustration, however, when I do not have clarity on how I can be of use in this lifetime.

What do you love most about yourself?

That in spite of my fallibility, I keep turning up.

What is your absolute favorite meal?

Langar— the Sikh concept of a communal meal, served to anyone regardless of caste, creed, gender, or religion. Food is donated by the community, made by the community, served in Gurdwaras the world over, completely free of charge, to anyone who comes through their doors, no questions asked.