Co.Design

Pictures Of Millennials With Everything They Own (And It Isn't Much)

Sannah Kvist’s "All I Own" series captures her Swedish compatriots surrounded by all their worldly belongings.

It’s fair to say that Millennials are the most tech-savvy adults in history. That advantage, one might think, would make them poised to become the most financially successful--if it weren’t for the fact that they entered the job market during a global recession. That doesn’t seem to faze them: If surveys are to be believed, they’re also more progressive and less materialistic (perhaps by necessity, as they’re all more debt-saddled than their predecessors).

These images, taken by the young Swedish photographer Sannah Kvist, seem to bear that out--snapshots of Millennials surrounded by all of their worldly possessions, which generally occupy no more than the corner of a room. The “All I Own" series stems from Kvist’s personal struggle with consumerism: “I had lived for 23 years when I took the photo of me and everything I owned and thought it was a sad collection of junk I’ve managed to buy,” she tells Co.Design. Similarly, the friends and acquaintances she has photographed since then have been amazed by “how much shit they actually owned.” (If you’ve moved recently, you’re probably familiar with that feeling.) “I think most people actually got an eye-opener when they built the piles.”

All of Kvist’s subjects were born in the ’80s, like herself, which, the artist says, is the most important limitation of the project. “[It] is the first generation, at least in Sweden, who had to grow up with worse social conditions than their parents, while the way we consume has changed radically.” Rather than investing in a permanent apartment, Kvist’s models tend to live in sublets, traveling with a few boxes (or Ikea bags) from one short-term arrangement to the next.

Age wasn’t the only requirement; nothing could be left out of the picture. “Everything should be in, but one can hide some stuff in the back,” Kvist says. The models are given carte blanche to stage their things and give their most valued objects most prominence. Unsurprisingly, their Macs were typically placed front and center. “I noticed how quickly they began to ‘compose’ their stacks,” the artist continues. “Much time was devoted to fine-tuning them. They were proud of some things, less of others.” The compositions, in effect, became self-conscious expressions of each participant’s persona.

As for Kvist’s own fight against collecting junk, it may be a losing battle. “Now that I live in Gothenburg, where it’s easier to find a sublet where you can stay longer, I have increased the household goods again. I just recently bought a life-size skeleton made of PVC. I have no further comment.”

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18 Comments

  • Derpa

    Guys, see how there's usually a big garbage or duffel bag off to the left or conspicuously hidden under a pile of chairs and pillows? That's their clothes. It's much easier to transport clothes in a bag, and there isn't very many ways to display clothes well regardless.

    They're not piling stuff in the corner for no reason. They're hiding the boring stuff like garbage bags of clothes in the back. I like the one guy with a rack of clothes though; classy.

  • khadley

    I'm guessing the rest of their stuff is still at home in their parent's basements!  But, point made... Millennials keep it simple!  (BTW...that's an observation and an
    inspirational charge.)

  • Tamara

    i don't buy this. what do these people wear on washing day? they mostly all seem to own only the clothes they're wearing.

  • diana

    A wonderful project. Would be great if she had the money to continue this project, go around the world, etc. Nice start!

  • disqus_NNC3N8MB7L

    This is an unfair comparison, albeit neat. There are many people who are part of my generation (born in 1986) who have done well financially and are making it. Sure, I don't own a house... but I have the money to buy one if I so choose. The thing I'm wondering is if you compaer these artsy-folks with those of us who have multiple college degrees.. would the posessions look differently? If you looked at my girlfriend and I together, we'd be on par with almost any other couple from any other generation. We have 2 cars, 2 places to stay, 2 beds, and a bunch of shit we don't need (but choose to have). The only difference between us and previous generations is that we have 4 computers between us and 4 university degrees. I work for a large financial company and she's a doctoral resident.  We pick and choose things that we really need and don't spend frivolously. We invest out extra money and live happily.

  • Tucked in the Bass

    Anyone else find it odd that you assume "people who own almost nothing" must be uneducated, "artsy" types?

  • MikeJones

    If this was me three years ago you could have taken a pic of my Accord
    stacked to the ceiling and riding low once every three to six months. 
    Alas becoming a professional has forced me to hoard luxury items such as
    tables, couches and beds. 

  • yerma

    A redux of the concept for the 1995 book Material World  by noted photographers Kennedy, Mann and Menzel, just not as interesting.

  • Katie Riordan

    I love that the MacBook is displayed front and center in several of these photos. Perfect symbol of my generation.
    Seriously, where are people's clothes in these photos? I only see one that has clothes and shoes in it.

  • Mark Duran

    .... and just what were you expecting, everything handed to you on a silver platter? Get a job hippy and stop whining because it could be a lot worse. You could be disabled, or live in a developing country, which is where most of the world lives.

  • Colin Roberts

    If this was me three years ago you could have taken a pic of my Accord stacked to the ceiling and riding low once every three to six months.  Alas becoming a professional has forced me to hoard luxury items such as tables, couches and beds. 

  • AJ Snyder

    LMAO, nevermind I couldn't tell from the slideshow that they are apparently all in Sweden??