I want to share with you a TED Talk I watched last year. “Where Joy Hides and Where to Find It” by the author and designer, Ingrid Fetell Lee. This talk really chimed with me as some of the principles I have already been applying in my own life without really realising it.

The Aesthetics of Joy: An Inspirational TED Talk

In her talk Ingrid Fetell Lee discusses how tangible items can give us the intangible feeling of joy. She calls this the Aesthetics of Joy; sensations of joy felt through physical design.  She defines joy as a  strongly positive feeling felt in the moment. Something that makes us smile or want to jump up and down.As a result of her research Ingrid found that we humans find joy in inanimate objects. In addition she found that some items that bring joy transcend age, gender and ethnicity.

Universally joyful items include: flamingoes, confetti, swimming pools, rainbows, bubbles, google eyes, ice-cream cones with sprinkles, fireworks and cherry blossoms.

Finding joy in our physical world

As Fetell Lee looked she started to find patterns in the things bringing us joy. Pops of bright colour, curves and circles, abundance, symmetrical shapes and lightness.

The idea of getting a happier, healthier mind from our physical world struck home with me. A few years ago, when I moved to France I suffered badly with home-sickness. I decided to make a conscious effort to focus on physical beauty in the world around me, instead of thinking about how much I missed home. The more I looked the more I saw. Consequently I began to recognise what a beautiful part of the world I live in. Over time I noticed that I felt calmer and more content.

Last Christmas I asked for a specific artwork. It was one of a series of paintings on canvas by Brighton based artist Zorian. The painting is of rubber ducks lost at sea. I was struck by how it did not really fit with what I perceive to be my design style: chic and glamorous. However, though this painting may not be sophisticated, it is colourful and fun so every time I see it, it makes me smile.

Adding joy through interior design

Adding more joy to your interior can be done through artwork that makes you smile. In addition the other patterns noted by Ingrid are also easily implemented. Vibrant pops of colour may be added to a wall, on furniture or accessories. Likewise lightness can be associated with wall colour and furniture style, it translates into light, airy spaces. You could bring in abundance via plants and flowers or, collections of other items that bring you joy. Display collections together for maximum impact. Symmetry can be achieved in room layouts, on sideboards or console tables. Curved furniture such as sofas or coffee or dining tables are also a good solution to soften a rooms hard angular lines. I will be covering these in more detail in upcoming posts.

If you’d like to watch Ingrid’s talk, or visit her website, please find the links below.  We could all use a little more joy and who knew it can be found in our everyday lives? Once you start looking for little moments of joy, the easier it is to find them and once those moments of joy start adding together…..

TedTalk youtube


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