I recently was sent a video of the designer Ingrid Fetell Lee talking about Joy and how it can be achieved in design. It’s only 13 minutes long so I am posting it here, please take the time and watch, you won’t regret it.
What I was struck by was not the connection of color, shape, multiplicity to the feeling of joy, but that it has taken designers, architects, and builders so long to get on board with this idea and apply it to our housing, institutions, medical facilities and such. When she shows photos of our cities and the architecture that most are comprised of, it is appalling how devoid of color it is. How did this go unrecognized for so long by so many?
Now as a former retailer I’ll tell you the people who are in the game of selling you stuff, whether it’s food, clothing, tech or anything else, really know how to use color. Those venues are often filled with color and texture to make us “feel” a certain way. Restaurants, particularly fast food, use color schemes that actually make you hungry! Fashion retailers use color, light, and texture to lead you to expensive items. (That may be why we have a sense of joy when buying the $100 jeans and buyers remorse when we leave the store. We get to the gray parking lot lined with white stripes and feel a letdown, or at least some of us do.)
So why can’t we apply the same color risks to the places she talks about in the video? Hospitals, nursing homes, schools, housing projects are all so drab compared to the well-lit, colorful mall. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like a good shopping trip as much as the next person but I would also like to see more color and texture in the places we live and work so that we get that sense of joy on a daily basis.
As Ingrid shows in the video, there are some pioneers changing the landscape and and adding color to these places, but we need so much more.
Color is about life! It is vibrant and, well, joyful. And as designers we should not shy away from it. Push the limits! Create joy. Imagine the world more joyful…….pretty cool, right?