Designing Happiness with Puppies and Cookies at SXSW

March 21, 2016

12:45 pm

Happiness – how to find it, create it, share it, and maintain it was a hot topic at SXSW this year. From Gretchen Rubin‘s presentation on the effects of habits on happiness, to a session on ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) which is a perceptual experience described as a relaxing, tingling sensation in response to particular visual and/or auditory stimuli, it turns out that a lot of people were interested in being happy (because, duh).

One of the most popular sessions of the whole interactive conference was Designing Happiness. It was the highest attended event on Saturday, March 11th outside of the Barack Obama keynote. The panel consisted of Bruce Vaughn, former Chief Creative Exec at Walt Disney Imagineering, Gabby Etrog Cohen, SVP of Brand Strategy at SoulCycle, and Randall Stone, Director of Experience Innovation at Lippincott, and was moderated by Mark Wilson, SR Writer Company Design for Fast Company

While some of the moments of happiness you experience are spontaneous, serendipitous, and natural, many of them are carefully designed by brands and companies. This does not necessarily make them any less authentic, it’s just another way to experience happiness, and you should consider yourselves lucky that there are so many people out there who want to make you happy (even if the ultimate goal is to get you to buy).

According to brand strategy firm Lippincott’s Happiness Halo, happiness designers must consider the beginning, middle, and end of an experience, or as Lippincott calls them, the anticipation, interaction, and afterglow.  They use the experience of having a party as a way to interconnect the three parts.

  • Anticipation – A big part of the joy is in the anticipation: inviting your friends, imagining all your loved ones in one place, looking forward to all the fun
  • Interaction – Of course, the interaction is exciting and engaging in its own way, with laughter and surprises and connections
  • Afterglow – Then, the memory of that party — the guests, the drinks, the laughs — has its own happiness, and there are those disproportionately powerful moments that dominate the scene in your memory and live on in nostalgic conversations, past decades of future parties.

Let’s not forget that the session ended with puppies AND cookies! 5 month old golden retriever/golden lab puppies were brought out for the crowd to fawn over and each attendee got to leave with a cookie in hand. Talk about the afterglow.

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Kristin is an aspiring entrepreneur who is enthusiastically navigating her way through the DC startup space. She has an unending passion for learning and is never satisfied with the status quo. During the day she is an ops, biz dev, and marketing maven for Fission Strategy

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