published Saturday, August 16th, 2014

The ‘Shelfie’ is trending on Instagram: A new design spin on the ubiquitous selfie

This shelfie at Revival contrasts hard and soft finishes.
This shelfie at Revival contrasts hard and soft finishes.
Photo by Shawn Paik.
  • photo
    Sherri Feltner was posting photos of her holiday decorating on Facebook for several years before the shelfie trend started. This was one of her July patriotic shelfies.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

  • photo
    Rodney Simmons, owner of Revival at Warehouse Row, combines an Italian, 18th-century, giltwood candle pricket, left, with coffee table books, Cire Trudon candles made in France and a Bengal Bazaar pillow from Los Angeles designer Kelly Wearstler. The pricket’s name is derived from the spike on top of the candleholder.
    Photo by Shawn Paik.
    enlarge photo

  • photo
    “We have people using these boxes for personal effects, such as a drop zone for keys, using them on the coffee table to hold remote controls and other electronics they want out or sight, and using them for jewelry boxes,” says Rodney Simmons. From left are woven straw boxes with faceted agate closures, vellum boxes outlined in brass nailheads and quatrefoil-patterned boxes with bone inlays.
    Photo by Shawn Paik.
    enlarge photo

Rodney Simmons has been on the leading edge of the newest social media trend without knowing it.

Simmons, owner of Revival design store in Warehouse Row, frequently posts shots of small, artistically designed groupings on Instagram and Facebook to share ideas with friends. Turns out, those photos have a name: the shelfie.

The shelfie is design’s spin on the selfie fad. Instead of posting pictures of yourself online, people post shots of their stuff creatively arranged on a shelf or tabletop. The idea is to give friends a peek at your personal taste instead of your person.

In its current issue, People Stylewatch calls it “a cool new riff” on the selfie. The Wall Street Journal posed this question about the shelfie: Is it a self-indulgent ego trip or a thoughtful way to show off your great taste?

Simmons says he’s pretty active in social media, but wasn’t familiar with the “shelfie” term. He just finds that social media is vital to interior design because “design is all about the image.”

“For Revival, social media is twofold: It lets people know what’s new in the store, communicates what we are doing, and beckons people into the store. Second, people interested in design all follow one another. We’re all feeding one another with ideas. Pinterest tends to lean toward more do-it-yourself, whereas Instagram tends to lead people toward a retailer or resource. It’s how a lot of designers are reaching people in the 21st century,” Simmons explains.

The rise of the shelfie began earlier this year in Europe, its name derived from photos being posted by boasting bibliophiles about their literary collections in their bookcase shelves. In an April article, England’s Daily Mail dubbed shelfies “the geek-chic social media trend to show off your book collection.”

As the trend grew, the less erudite took the fad into other rooms of their homes and began posting images of creative groupings on shelving units of their kitchens, bedrooms, baths or living rooms.

Ooltewah resident Sherri Feltner is known for her holiday decorating. She’s been posting shelfies to Facebook for quite some time of cute clusters of decorations or other small groupings she designs each holiday.

“I do that all the time, but I didn’t know about the shelfie,” she says. “I’ve just always taken pictures as long as I’ve had a Facebook account, mainly to remember what I’ve done in previous years. I’d say I’ve been documenting what I do since my first home in 1975.”

Contact Susan Pierce at or 423-757-6284.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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