Can Good Design Make You Happy?

Thursday 08 January 2015

I was just reading the architecture section of - always a source of interest and inspiration, and also a little bit of design controversy too. Frank Gehry is mentioned, architect of the sublime in Bilbao, and one of the most important architects of our time. He cites good architecture, with reference to the Museum in particular, as something that can transform cities. And the Guggenheim Museum is a good case in point. 

Back in the mid eighties Bilbao was an ailing, industrial has-been; local authorities were wringing their hands and fearing the city would go the way of so many waterside giants before it. But, with some local cash injection, some forward thinking people and the audacious idea that a large museum that cost millions would bring prosperity back with abundance, a competition was launched to find a designer. 

Over a decade later, in 1997, the museum was unveiled to the public. And nearly 20 years on from that, Bilbao is most defintely back on the international map, probably more robust, successful and well-known than ever before. Incredibly it only took around three years for the city to be turned around by this monumental piece of architecture. During those first three years nearly four million visitors passed through the doors of the museum, and the city too of course. Ok, so it's a really big building, you can't miss it can you, but doesn't it seem incredible that one building can transform the prosperity of one city in such a short space of time?

Well to be honest, I for one am not surprised, but then I'm the preacher and am already converted. It's also exactly what we are all about here at The Green Room: good design, whether it be in the home, the garden, the workplace, the community, the environment or evidently in industry, is key to emotional, psychological and economical well being. It can also be great fun, sociable, exciting, educational and inspiring - I cannot tell you the adrenalin kicks I have had from seeing and being in well designed spaces. 

You only have to look at nature too to see that good, simple design and efficiency in evolution and in ecology, is paramount. It's even thought that good design can aid healing and psychological disorders. At the that are dotted throughout the country and provide cancer care for patients and their families, the design of the building and its surrounding environment are key to the level of care they wish to give to all who come to them. They have engaged some of the world's top designers to help them achieve this. People that have used and continue to use their centres are in raptures about them. 

Along similar lines there was a time when I had a crisis of confidence that I didn't have a job that really helped people. You know, doctor, nurse, fireman etc. But it suddenly dawned on me that this is exactly what we do do. Someone once asked me what the favourite part of my job was. Incredibly I love all of it, but the greatest buzz I get is the excitement that designing brings to peoples lives. When they can see that the space they have can be made so much better, improved so much more and see themselves living there, loving it. It makes me feel really priviledged to be part of something that can be so life changing for potentially millions of people. And even if what we do is life changing for just that one client and their family and their friends, and their postman, then it's enough. 

As we move into a new year, we have lots of new projects on the go and lots in the pipeline too.  We are really looking forward to making lots of changes for the better, enhancing peoples live through design and creating lots of excitement for many years to come yet.

Posted by Jennie Herrington, Garden Design, Henley on Thames, England