Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Is This What Happiness Looks Like?

An increasingly popular group of interior decorators relies on 
the mood-alteringpower of color. Left, a room designed by
Diamond Baratta Design; right, a room by Jamie Drake.

In the last decade the social sciences have become increasingly focused on happiness and what accounts for it, and over the past several months the rest of the culture has been catching up. The best-attended course at Harvard last semester was Positive Psych, an introduction to a new field of psychology that eschews the traditional approach of focusing on pathologies in favor of studying the sources of happiness — “a class whose content resembles that of many a self-help book,” as The Boston Globe reported. Last month New York magazine published a cover story on the amount of interest in the subject, citing a spate of new books, the six-year-old Journal of Happiness Studies and courses at more than 100 colleges, all of which address the question of what makes people happy.

And in the fall “The Architecture of Happiness,” by the philosopher Alain de Botton, who lives in England, will be published in the United States. In it he argues that physical environment is a crucial contributor to well-being. Like it or not, he suggests, the spaces we live in shape our sense of happiness and of self, so we had better choose them carefully.

Even before this vogue took hold in America, however, a number of influential East Coast decorators were exploring the same issues, and advancing a theory of their own: that a maximalist, color-saturated approach to interiors is a secret to happiness — maybe even the secret.


Dennis Rolland’s bedroom for the 2006 Hampton Designer Showhouse 
in Bridgehampton, N.Y., reflects an affinity for exuberant colors.

 A room by Miles Redd.

Jamie Drake, left, photographed in his Fifth Avenue apartment, has a 
reputation for creating vibrant interiors, like the dining room, right, he 
designed for a residence in Manhattan.

Miles Redd makes use of a slightly muted color palette in his 
Manhattan living room, which incorporates touches of black and white.

Christina Juarez and her daughter, Sofia, right, live in an 
Upper East Side apartment that combines warm pinks
with chocolate brown.
 
May Baratta, below, is happy with the candy colors of her
Boca Raton, Fla., apartment, decorated by her son’s firm, 
Diamond Baratta Design.

Read the full article at The New York Times


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