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Blinkist : Books Summary

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Part of 21/23

heir history the annual Academy Awards show had become incredibly tedious to watch. The crowd just sat in the theater barely clapping at what was happening onstage. 
So Rockwell decided to dump the rows of straight seats and instead placed them in wider concentric loops. The front of the stage was also rounded out meaning that the presenters could stand within the crowd rather than at a distance. 
The impact was plain to see. No longer did the audience leave the event bored and if possible early – they actually stayed right through to the end. Rockwell had reinvigorated the celebration. 
These blinks remind us of what is too easily forgotten: joyfulness is everywhere and it must not be repressed. It can be found in everyday objects and colors in playful design and architecture and in celebrations across the world. 
Joyfulness must be encouraged for all our sakes. Whether by creating and paying attention to design details as viewers or shaping gardens and buildings as designers we can m
11/5/2019 11:40:44 AM
Part of 18/23

ing feelings of awe in us. 
Moreover awe alters our perception of life and the world around us. 
This was shown in a 2017 study conducted by psychologist Yang Bai. Visitors to San Francisco and Yosemite National Park were asked to draw themselves within their surroundings. 
The Yosemite National Park visitors drew themselves as little stick figures enfolded by nature’s vastness. In contrast city visitors’ self-portraits were larger figures within the cityscape. 
You might think that these portrayals of insignificance would be indicative of displeasure. But it’s quite the reverse: the study showed that when awe is the cause of such feelings they are actually experiences of rapture and joy. 
What’s great about design – and architecture in particular – is that it can also stir such exhilaration. 
In the past the construction of towering buildings was mostly restricted to places of worship. The idea was to induce appropriate awe in worshippers. 
In more modern times awe has been elicited t
11/5/2019 11:40:02 AM
Part of 19/23

hrough more secular projects. Just think of Grand Central Station’s cavernous hall or the enormous 94-foot-long blue whale that hangs from the ceiling of the American Museum of Natural History. The specific purpose of both these New York attractions is to stir feelings of awe in those who look upon them.  
Celebrations spread joyfulness and well-designed spaces lead to more celebration. 
Every day in New York a tour bus takes visitors to famous sites around the city from Little Italy to Times Square. 
But there is one location that is guaranteed to elicit the most joy. It’s City Hall where couples go to get married and celebrate with their family and friends. 
There’s no escaping it: celebrations are a great way to increase joyfulness.  
Looking at the great run of human history celebrations wouldn’t seem to make a lot of sense. There seems no logical reason why people would congregate together and consume many of their resources. Why waste time that would be better spent hunting o
11/5/2019 11:40:02 AM
Part of 16/23

amingo with its blazing pink coloring and spindly legs that is known and loved the world over – so much so in fact that it’s common to see plastic flamingos as decorative objects on pristine lawns. 
We too should celebrate our individual idiosyncrasies whether this means wearing fake leopard-skin leggings or pineapple-shaped hats. 
The argument for quirkiness is so clear that the design world too has embraced it. 
Quirkiness reached its peak with what has been termed Dutch Design. It originated in the Netherlands and gained worldwide attention in the 1990s. A key aspect of this movement was that the size of various objects became something to play around with. For instance table lamps were enlarged and engorged absorbing a room’s focus. Meanwhile tables were shrunk to almost matchbox size. Additionally decorative objects were made from silicone rather than ceramic materials meaning they could be thrown or knocked over without breaking. 
These objects of design are delightful because th
11/5/2019 11:40:01 AM
Part of 17/23

ey elicit such surprise. They awaken us to the fact that things don’t have to be the same all the time and that we needn’t ever feel subjected to the overly serious or the drearily mundane.  
Experiences of awe are part of the joy of life and architecture can foster awe in us. 
Every October in New Mexico the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is held. Thousands of colorful balloons large and small are released into the heavens. The spectacle is a sight to behold. 
It’s easy to overlook but displays of this kind that are actually essential since experiences of awe play an important part in evoking joy. 
For fifteen years American psychologists Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt have studied the concept of awe. They define awe as a response to something of almost infinite vastness in the mind. In short it is a reminder that transcendence exists and it does so out of the usual human frame of reference. 
More tangibly huge canyons enormous mountains or vast open skies are all capable of inspir
11/5/2019 11:40:01 AM
Part of 15/23

you spot a burst of color. One of the head honchos has come striding in his rainbow-colored socks peeking out from above his shoes. 
Even a touch of quirkiness like that can help everyone to relax be less anxious and feel more joyful. 
There’s a lesson here. Don’t feel bound by convention; break the mold and bring joy to the world through quirkiness. 
Typically especially during our teens and early twenties we place a lot of importance on style and trends. We just want to fit in. 
It’s not just a question of aesthetics and of feeling like we ought to be appreciated for our tastes. If we wear the right sort of fashionable items it indicates that we belong to the right sort of people and that we possess the moral authority that comes with that. 
The risk in this sort of group behavior is that quirky awkward individuality gets repressed. And with that conformity joy is erased. 
Take birds as an example. We generally imagine them as sleek and elegant creatures. And yet it is the awkward fl
11/5/2019 11:40:00 AM
Part of 12/23

 access to it; thus neither side should be up against a wall. An asymmetrically placed bed is a sign of an asymmetrical relationship. If you adopt a more egalitarian approach in the placement of your bed the increased harmony that generally results will also improve your domestic life. 
“The first few times I left the house [after cleaning the entryway] it was so smooth I almost felt like I had forgotten something. ” 
Playful design increases people’s feelings of joy and makes them more innovative. 
There’s a rare feeling of pure elation that can descend in moments when you are able to let go and allow yourself to succumb to pure joy. For Lee that occurred most memorably while on holiday in the Galapagos Islands. She found herself playing with a sea lion. It would speed toward her under the water and then at the last moment possible swerve away to avoid colliding with her. 
It may seem a stretch but it is also crucial to incorporate playfulness into design. Simply put playful
11/5/2019 11:39:56 AM
Part of 13/23

design increases joy. 
Take the famous Italian designer and architect Gaetano Pesce as an example. All his furniture is tinged with a sense of whimsy. Brightly colored resinous material seems to flow in on itself as it takes on the forms of chairs stools or tables. He even has a sofa whose back is a cutout of the New York skyline – the headrest is the shape of a massive full moon. 
Now 78 Pesce who works in New York’s SoHo has no intention of slowing down and he has dozens of projects on the go simultaneously. Perhaps the secret to his long career is the fact that the aim of his creations is to produce joy and laughter. His work is truly the force of life. And what’s more his success shows that he knows what he’s doing. For Pesce there is no joy in geometry alone; the coldness of squares and triangles is a thing of the past. It is organic and surprising forms that elicit joy.  
And there’s a second benefit to playful design: it makes designers more innovative. 
That’s just what happene
11/5/2019 11:39:56 AM
Part of 14/23

d with one of Pesce’s first designs the Up 5 chair. This was a comfortable armchair that came with an ottoman. Its stripes gave it some flair but it was also a pleasure just to sink into it and put your feet up for hours on end. 
But the real genius of this playful chair was under the surface. Or rather it wasn’t: there was no solid frame at all. The set was made entirely out of polyurethane foam. 
That innovation meant it could be compressed down to a tenth of its size making shipping and storage a cinch. And once unpacked it just magically expanded into a full-size design masterpiece. 
Without Pesce’s playful attitude the creation of such a groundbreaking chair would never have been possible. 
There is more joy in quirkiness than in convention and design is there to remind us of that. 
Imagine that you’re lined up to give an important presentation at an office meeting. Everybody has come in dressed to impress their faces serious. You feel yourself begin to sweat nervously. 
11/5/2019 11:39:56 AM
Part of 10/23

a Chinese philosophy that guides people on how best to arrange rooms in order to for example get sounder sleep. 
It’s actually a pretty practical approach to creating a harmonious space. 
Putting Feng Shui into action is simple. You have to focus your attention on each part of the home and consider how the overall room design might be made more harmonious. There’s no magic to it. 
The underlying principle in Feng Shui is that a form of energy called “chi” runs through all matter. Consequently should the flow of “chi” through a space be interrupted the room’s harmony will be disturbed due to the pooling of stagnating energy. 
The classic example of bad Feng Shui is to place large or tall items of furniture right in the middle of a room. 
You might think it difficult to assess the finer flows of energy in a room. But it’s actually not. Just ask yourself "How would a small pet move through a room if released here?” Would it be free to move and explore the space and all its objects easily?
11/5/2019 11:39:55 AM
Part of 11/23

 Or would it get stuck circling around awkwardly placed furniture and piles of papers? 
If the latter is the case then the room likely has bad Feng Shui. 
There’s every reason to embrace Feng Shui since it can help increase joy and happiness. 
And it begins right by your front door. The entryway to any home should be free of clutter if it is to be welcoming. If you can barely open the door because of shoes coat racks boxes or pieces of furniture you’ll feel slowed down even as you exit. 
If you leave burdened by the thought of obstacles then you will remain plagued by that for the rest of the day too. You may even find yourself becoming increasingly irritable because of it. 
The same applies when you arrive home. If you return to an open and welcoming space this will lead to the generation of joy. Opening your door to a pile of junk is not going to create the same effect. 
Couples should pay special attention to the placement of their bed in the bedroom. It should allow two people easy
11/5/2019 11:39:55 AM
Part of 8/23

ediately hit by a strong sense of freedom. 
It was a wild garden where tall blue salvia and hollyhocks were placed amid grass thickets. The grasses themselves were of various strains lengths and colors. No closely trimmed lawn here! 
A figure-eight path gave the profusion of grasses and flowers a little structure but didn’t stop butterflies from fluttering across it. 
Lee was deeply affected: the freedom in the garden’s design prompted a feeling of freedom in her. She had a sudden desire to take the day off and laze in a sheltered corner of this magical realm with a picnic beside her. 
The trick to getting a garden to have this effect on visitors is to design it relatively loosely. Oudolf was certainly of that school of thought. 
He'd learned about gardening in the English tradition but soon found it too constraining. The rules were just too restrictive: they dictate when and where to plant things how flower beds should be prepared and even which colors to pair. 
Oudolf embraced freedo
11/5/2019 11:39:51 AM
Part of 9/23

m in his garden jettisoning tradition. Instead of dividing areas of the garden with stiff pruned shrubs he opted for grasses. Grasses are great because they grow into large bushy shapes but they are much wilder than shrubs. Consequently flowers can grow among them while the wind can also blow the grasses this way and that. 
The use of grasses gave a much more dynamic and lively feel to his garden quite unlike static and formal English gardens. Oudolf even applied the same principle to other plants. Each would be allowed its freedom and none would be compelled to sit rigid in a pruned form. 
“It’s learning to accept that things grow and try to find their own way. You have to allow plants to do their thing.” – Piet Oudolf 
Feng Shui is about creating a harmonious space which can increase joy and happiness. 
Feng Shui gets a bad rap these days; perhaps you already feel a tide of skepticism rising at the very mention of the term. But it needn’t be like that. 
In essence it’s just
11/5/2019 11:39:51 AM
Part of 7/23

-and-aqua stripes which made a feature of the already huge arches. A giant chandelier hung from above while off to the side pink walls framed round windows. 
To put it mildly when Lee walked through this lobby its over-the-top abundance filled her with pure delight. It was just so much more fun that traipsing through some ugly grey cement block of a hotel. 
You can find freedom in a garden as long as you don’t design it too strictly. 
No doubt you still remember that feeling you had as a child: you decided to pack a little bag and head off into the woods or along a path. What pushed you on was the feeling of freedom and the desire for the open road. 
Such feelings are not a thing of the past. You can actually create that freedom within your own home. It just takes a bit of design know-how. 
A good place to start is the garden. 
Just consider what the Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf has created in Hummelo close to the German border. 
Lee visited him in his garden there and was imm
11/5/2019 11:39:50 AM
Part of 5/23

u’ll find yourself living in an empty granite cube save for a bare light bulb and a sleeping bag. 
When you think about it minimalism’s lack of joyfulness is grounded in its strange moral associations. 
Minimalism represents its lack of ornamentation as a form of spirituality. This “purity” is an attempt to create a visual manifestation of morality. 
However if you trace the history of the aesthetics of purity you’ll see that an ugly racial tendency underlies it. Minimalism emerged at the start of the twentieth century with theorists such as the Austrian architect Adolf Loos. 
They looked at ornamentation and cluttered spaces with contempt since they were so widespread in what was then Persia and Eastern European countries. 
By contrast they declared that minimalism offered purity and simplicity of shape and color both in art and in design. 
Simplicity of design has also found more recent advocates and this minimalist revival also has a strong moral tone. Minimalism might pride itself
11/5/2019 11:39:49 AM

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