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Aesthetics of Joy


Joy is a very particular emotion. It’s not just happiness, which is too vague and encompassing a positive feeling. It’s not contentment, with its snug, muted warmth, but it’s also not spine-tingling ecstasy, nor is it the zen-like feeling we call bliss. Joy inhabits that ineluctable space between wonder and pleasure, neighboring delight, but somehow more profound. Joy is momentary, but not temporary. Surprising, but not necessarily in a spectacular way. It is personal but at the same time universal, an essential emotion that renews and uplifts the human psyche.

Joy’s defining feature is that it is renewable. The first day of spring is always joyful. So is Christmastime. So is blowing bubbles or hearing your favorite song or flying above the clouds. Joy is the renewable resource of positive emotions. Like bamboo or sunlight, it will never run out.

Aesthetics of Joy is about tapping into this renewable resource of emotion to design objects and experiences that are emotionally sustainable: pleasurable not just on the first encounter, but for the long term. By identifying the elements—aesthetic, sensory, and cognitive—that trigger joy, my goal is to suggest a way for design to foster a healthier culture of consumption, based on relationships between people and objects that are meaningful and rewarding.

Aesthetics of Joy began as my masters thesis in the field of industrial design, and I'm now in the process of turning my research into a book. The project has its own site,, where I share examples of joyful objects, spaces and experiences, excerpts from interviews, and some of the theories that comprise the book.

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