Our homes are representations of ourselves. And design influences how we live and interact with the world. It’s these ideas that designer Amanda Talbot explores in her new book, HAPPY. In it she reveals how good design creates joyous living spaces.
“I found that even though people were following different paths, their main goal was to be happy. It’s such a simple thing, but it only dawned on me then – we live to be happy,” she says. The renowned designer, and previous assistant editor of ELLE Decoration, embarked on a quest around the world, to find the homes and people that have made this idea a reality.
Talbot explored luxe high-rise apartments in New York, isolated, minimalist homes in Scandinavia and chic beach shacks on the edges of Australia. The result is a comprehensive study of beautifully designed homes that reflect their owners’ personality. In HAPPY, vivid photographs, interviews, quotes and reflections catalogue people who may live differently, but who have spaces that capture their inner emotions.
Themed chapters, such as colour, light, edit, nature, flow, location, memories and play, which Talbot saw as the elements that make a home, organise the book. They collate spaces from different extremes and backgrounds, encouraging readers to create their own unique space from strategic design, using carefully chosen textures, colours and finishes.
One home she explores, New York’s “SkyHouse”, caters to the playful aspects of her book. It has an Anish Kapoor slippery dip and a rock-climbing wall.
Another belongs to her friends Des and Dee, who lived for a time in a builder’s hut at the back of a garden nursery. It is featured as part of the location chapter and proves that embracing where you live, despite where it is, “Highlights that a home can still be made into something special,” Talbot says.
One of the most influential homes for her was in Copenhagen. Though its simple and elegant Scandinavian style was far from unique – with neutral colours complementing snow-sprinkled windowsills – it was instantly different when Talbot walked inside. Speaking to the owner, she discovered it was due to the energy within the home.
Though this sounds spiritual, Talbot confirms it isn’t. In HAPPY, she quotes architect Jan Rösler who says, “To preserve the spirit of the room is the challenge of change.”
HAPPY explores unique homes from around the world to show the importance of designing a space from what you love, rather than what’s on trend. “The book is there to stimulate inspiration. Everyone’s style is different, and everyone’s love of colour is different. Focus on you first,” she says.
Throughout the pages of HAPPY, Talbot demonstrates how thoughtful design can contribute to growing confidence and optimism. She shows how architecture and interior design, at their best, can make us more enlightened and productive, and how it can contribute to an overall sense of wellbeing. The book reveals the complexities of happiness, and how that translates into creating intelligent living spaces that speak to our hearts as much as our heads.
HAPPY, at its core, is an ode to simplicity – a book that draws you back to your fundamental truths. “It’s not about creating this upbeat space, but a home where you can feel comfortable, or cry, or have some quiet time. You could be working there, be cooking, have kids; it’s about creating a space that fits your life like a glove.”
HAPPY by Amanda Talbot, is published through Murdoch Books. It is available at all good book stores.