Designing for Happiness

Designing for Happiness

When I started my design career, one of my main goals was to create things that have real emotional impact. I most appreciate design that makes me stop and look, or compels me to interact on a deeper level. At its core, design has the power to make strong connections and change perceptions. Design permeates our culture, but we are often flooded with so much of it that even a lot of very good design can become easy to ignore. Or at least not think about it too much.

But what really influences us to interact and connect with design on an emotional level?


Say it loud

phil lumbang elephant street artThe graffiti mentioned below is gone now, but this elephant will probably make you happy. Street art by Phil Lumbang.


Experiencing happiness from design can come from odd and unexpected places. When I would drive down the interstate to see a friend, there was a portion of wall on the side of the road with “YOU ARE AWESOME” painted across it in enormous letters. It always managed to improve my day, even if just a little bit. The lettering wasn’t anything too incredible, in fact it seemed intentionally unrefined. But, I could always expect to see it on my drive over. Eventually, even the anticipation of seeing it would elevate my mood. I like to imagine many of the thousands of people passing by throughout the day felt much the same too.


wish for peace mural


The experience was just a small part of my day. A simple positive thought, but presented in a grand fashion. That made it something special and memorable.

Always be searching for new ways for people to experience your design. Most of us work primarily from our computers, so it can sometimes be difficult to consider how a piece of design will be viewed outside of the digital arena. You can browse for the most amazing work all day on a screen, but there is just something much more satisfying about seeing that art in its original form.


happiness doodles
Photo Credit: Fancycrave.

A few general tips for designing with happiness

• Find new and unexpected ways for your work to be seen.
• Involve yourself with projects that will help to improve your community.
• Be genuine, and start with positivity in mind.
• Stay fluid with your work. Create things that are fun for you.
• Don’t censor your ideas. You can always fine tune later.

Good vibes are contagious, so have fun and spread them around. Most of this probably sounds like general design advice you’ve heard before. But if you follow it, you will convey more sincere emotion and end up with more personal creations. So don’t be too hard on yourself. You have some great ideas that others will readily connect to.

samwas, an author on the DesignUps Nashville Design Blog

About the Author

Sam's attention to detail and insight into the design process produces great clarity. He graduated from Watkins College of Design and has been an integral part of the DesignUps team ever since. When he's not putting pixels in their perfect spot he may he may be working on perfecting his craft of fire twirling.