design: happy?

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?

Happy Clients

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.

Happy Designers

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.

photo courtesy

photo courtesy

The Bubble Project

Subway signage pranks

Keep in touch,

ps…..I’m photo-ing the kitchen remodel this month.  Pictures coming!

happy, successful and maybe even wealthy


I think that most of us want to be happy and successful (whatever our version of success is), and some of us aspire to wealth as well.  So the lists I’ve posted over the last few days share the wisdom (hopefully) of others’ research into the habits we need to develop to get there.  The lists include 21 habits to be happy, 10 habits to be rich and 7 habits to be successful.  There are only two habits that all three lists share:

·         exercise regularly
·         help others

Successful and wealthy people have an additional habit they share:

·         keep learning

And happy and successful people share a few more:

·         eat well
·         sleep well
·         listen well and maintain personal connections
·         find a spiritual connection

Do you maintain any of these habits?  Or maybe all of them?  I’m putting these 7 on the top of my priority list and aiming to include a few more from the happy and successful lists.  Happy people also need to listen to happy music…so be happy with Pharrell’s jam!  Now I’m off to yoga….happy Monday!

21 habits of happy people

Meet Rita....that is one happy walk!

Meet Rita….that is one happy walk!

George Carlin says that trying to be happy by accumulating things is like trying to conquer hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body.  Love that quote.  Of course it’s full of truth that I sometimes neglect when walking by the shoe department.

There is an actual psychology of happiness and doctors who have been studying it for years.  Dr. Marty Seligman is the founder of ‘positive psychology’ and the director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Seligman finds that there are three types of happy lives:  the pleasant life, the life of engagement, and the meaningful life.  The pleasant life is one filled with the pursuit of pleasure and is the least fulfilling.  HuffPost put together the following list to aid us in living a life of engagement and meaning.  It’s a long list, but I figure if we take these things one at a time and see how they feel it’s doable.

  1. Surround yourself with happy people.
  2. Cultivate a happy thought and smile about it.
  3. Develop resilience.  Get up when you fall down.
  4. Try to be happy.
  5. Be mindful of the good.
  6. Appreciate simple pleasures.
  7. Devote some time to giving to others.
  8. Let yourself lose track of time.
  9. Nix the small talk in favor of deeper conversation whenever you can.
  10. Spend money on other people.
  11. Make a point to listen, really listen.
  12. Maintain in person connections.
  13. Look on the bright side.  Find the silver lining.
  14. Listen to uplifting music.
  15. Unplug.
  16. Find a spiritual connection, a place within something bigger.
  17. Make exercise a priority.
  18. Go outside.
  19. Sleep well and regularly.
  20. Laugh out loud.
  21. Walk with your head up and your arms swinging.

Tomorrow I’ll find some info on habits of smart people.  Then we can compare and contrast and see if rich, smart and happy have much in common.  Have a happy Wednesday!