Let’s admit it. We all need Harry. Prince Harry. In person, preferably. The reason is now in the public domain, as he has taken on the role of Chief Impact Officer for a Silicon Valley start-up. The perfect figure to teach us how to improve our mental wellbeing, develop resilience and confidence in the future after the huge knock-back of the pandemic.
Can one learn to be happy, though? Allan Percy, author of Conecta con la Felicidad (2007), La Escafandra del Optimista (2013) and the more recent Nietzsche for Stressed Out People and Oscar Wilde’s Coaching (2020), certainly believes so. Ruth Whippman, journalist, filmmaker and author of The Pursuit of Happiness (2020) isn’t quite so sure. In her book she says that being honest with ourselves and learning to accept negative emotions is a more constructive approach. Oliver Burkeman also came to the same conclusion - after reviewing books on happiness for The Guardian for many years, he developed a certain penchant for “positive thinking” and maintains in his book The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking (2013) that, when self-imposed, being over-optimistic leads to frustration and unhappiness.
However, attempting to acquire a change of perspective in order to gain a bright and vital view of the world does allow us to retrieve our motivation, adjust the way we move forward and take a more level view of the importance of things that may have gone wrong during the day. We therefore need to think of things that can help us change our attitude and mood while shut between our four domestic walls. Design is one. The design of our furnishings – which ought to make us happy and good-humoured or bring comfort, at least - because as we know, the way we perceive our space has a direct impact on our emotions.
If you think about it, though, this “happiness design” isn’t really so far-fetched. How could Jaimon Hayon’s Happy Hook for jackets and coats (Fritz Hansen) fail to raise a smile when you open the front door, and the same is true of Fabio Novembre’s Smile containers for keys and whatnot (Kartell), in which the round hole on the Componibili turns into a winking eye, in a nod to the emojis of today.