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Simple Design Tricks that Will Make Your Day

Mar 26 2015

Design director Ingrid Fetell has a knack for improving things that suck.

Her Aesthetics of Joy blog and book-in-progress explore how design can transform the everyday in positive ways. So, it didn't surprise us when Studio 360, WNYC's public radio program hosted by Kurt Andersen, asked Fetell and the IDEO New York studio to gin up ideas for its longstanding Redesigns series. Andersen prompted listeners to offer up joyless experiences they would have redesigned and “Monday morning” was the clear winner. We asked Ingrid to tell us more about her mission to transform yucks into yums.

IDEO: Tell us about your blog.

Ingrid Fetell: Aesthetics of Joy is a passion project where I explore the intersection of design and positive emotion to understand how we can design things that make us feel good. IDEO and WNYC’s Studio 360 are partnering to put these ideas into practice, taking something that people feel is particularly joyless—in this case, Mondays—and transforming it through design. (Read the IDEO case study.)

How can design transform a crappy experience?

Part of it is using aesthetics that make people feel a sense of joy—bright saturated color, lush textures, a sense of abundance, bursting gestures, playing with shifts in perspective or scale. Another part is designing the conditions for joy—things that are surprising, that create anticipation, allow for serendipity, or are shared experiences where people amplify each other's joy. So, some of it is aesthetic and some of it is orchestration, how we choreograph experiences to make them joyful.

How can people use design to infuse their daily life with more joy?

Look for ways to surprise yourself. One fun thing I do is leave things in my pockets to discover later: small shells, stones, concert tickets. As the seasons change, and I change my coat, I forget about them, and then find these little surprises that are memories of good times.

One fun thing I do is leave things in my pockets to discover later: small shells, stones, concert tickets.

Ingrid Fetell