It’s easy to daydream yourself into a lifestyle that isn’t quite as cluttered and scattered as your own; something sleek and minimal that’s beautiful yet functional.
I’ve had Scandinavian aspirations since visiting Stockholm a few times and really appreciate the idea of having just what you need and not the excess of America’s gluttonous, disposable culture. Remembering something about clutter and a messy mind being intertwined.
Stepping into FORM Fine Goods on 5th street in Walker’s Point, you get that feeling of an airy lightness. It feels less of a retail shop and more of a Lifestyle display – objects to live with that have a function, are made by hand from an artisan that’s likely local, and a lush jungle of friendly plants in ceramic homes hung up in macramé. It’s just across the street from another well-curated lifestyle shop, Specter– both cater to distinct but differing aesthetics.
The “fine goods” at FORM are placed as thoughtfully as they would in a museum, next to vintage mid-century modern art books that could easily have been inspiration for the pieces. Jewelry, makeup and fragrance easily live amongst sculptural serving ware, fruit bowls and culture magazines. Even though everything is clearly made of the finest materials and laid out like art, it all feels friendly enough to imagine in your own home.
Part of the inviting nature might come from the proprietor herself. Beth Miller has a graceful confidence with a warm greeting. You feel lucky to have her sharing her taste; you can take one look at her and feel envious of her style that seems so effortless to her. She makes it look easy.
It’s no surprise she has a background in art and design – art school, working in art galleries, internship at the Art Museum, studio at the Pitch Project… it all seemed destined to funnel into the vision she created. But she wasn’t always ready to set her roots here. “I always had this idea that I would leave Milwaukee someday, that I wasn’t going to stay here forever. But the more I traveled, the more I saw cities that were comparable in size, I appreciated Milwaukee more and more.”
She was left considering two options; she could leave, or try out this dream she always head in the back of her head. “I wanted it to be a retail store, I wanted it to be things you couldn’t find anywhere else in Milwaukee, I wanted it to also give Milwaukee visitors a glimpse of things going on here besides beer and cheese.”
The combination of local and international wares is seamless; everything is handmade, unique and well designed. You can make the dream of owning less, but everything made to last in a timeless functional beauty as effortless as stepping into Miller’s dream on 5th.