I recently posted about good design and what I’m willing to pay for it. It matters. But does it make people happy? And what about the happiness of the designers who create the design? Are they happy?
A couple of nights ago a residential client of mine invited me to a small gathering at her house. We recently completed a remodel of her somewhat drab, poorly lit, dysfunctional kitchen. There were several compliments on the look of the kitchen, but there was one guest, Stuart we’ll call him (because that’s his name), who had apparently been asking for me since his arrival. Stuart told me how much he liked how the kitchen looked, but what really made me feel like the project was a success was when he went on about how it made him feel. He was so excited about how the space felt to him: open and airy and comfortable. And in his opinion, it worked just perfectly (although all he was doing in it was drinking wine and noshing).
When I approach a new design project I always begin with a questionnaire or a long conversation where I ask a lot of questions. One of the questions is always ‘what mood are you trying to create?’ Of course I want my design work to look good. But my first order of business is making it work. Does it provide the service that is needed, and equally important, does it feel the way the client would like it to feel. So far, I haven’t yet had a client tell me that the mood they were after was sadness.
If I’ve created a project that makes people some version of happy (because that is usually what they are after….I haven’t yet done a mortuary), then I will be happy as well. But there are other components of designer happiness. Stefan Sagmeister talks a lot about happiness and design. He is a designer (with a very wide list of talents) who has created a few TED talks. One is below, and this one particularly speaks to me. It’s shorter and a bit sweeter than the typical TED talk, so listen while you have a cup of coffee. Or two. He mentions a couple of awesome New York City visual projects in his talk that make him happy. Both are a bit surprising, which is part of what creates the joy. Links follow the video.
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ps…..I’m photo-ing the kitchen remodel this month. Pictures coming!