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  • Writer's pictureLynn Grant

Designing for Joy

December 2, 2018

Recently, I found this TED video featuring an industrial designer, Ingrid Fetell Lee, who talked about how we can have more joy in our lives through good design. In “Where Joy Hides and How to Find It” Lee explains that we can feel positive emotions from intangible objects. She explains that joy, “the intense momentary experience of positive emotion” can be found in shapes, color and light, and that there is joy to be found in both natural and human made things. Her video reminded me that the set I’ve designed for Palo Alto Children’s Theater, Schoolhouse Rock–Live! is filled with joyful shapes and colors.

Opening December 6–23 at the Lucie Stern Center, the Schoolhouse Rock–Live! set has a series of brightly colored disks and cylinders in front of a backdrop of colorful arches and circular opening (see rendering). There isn’t a specific setting for the musical, in fact there are more songs than dialogue in this adaptation of songs, many written by the late jazzman, Bob Dorough. From such songs as “Interplanet Janet” and “Circulation” I knew that repeating circular shapes with bright colors would give a feeling of joy and excitement, exactly the kind of design solutions Lee talks about in her video and book, Joyful.

I remember the joy I felt while watching Schoolhouse Rock cartoons as a child. “Three is a Magic Number”, “The Preamble”, “Conjunction Junction” all taught me important lessons about math, history, and how to be a good citizen. Once I had children of my own, I made sure that they would also benefit from SHR's creative and educational message. Now considered classics, this collection of songs is still delighting generations of children. Designing scenery for the musical, and seeing my daughter in the ensemble, I get to experience both joy from my past and joy in my present since, soon, I'll be seeing it performed by children from my home town.

Please support the PACT community by attending the SHR musical starting next week (link to tickets below). And don't forget to sign up for more blogs and news from Lynn Grant Design.

Palo Alto Children’s Theater presents:

Dec 6-23, 2018

Lucie Stern Center

Middlefield Road, Palo Alto


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