My latest post for my Psychology Today blog is generating a lot of great discussion in the comments about architecture and emotion. The post uses the phenomenon of the blog Unhappy Hipsters, which assigns new captions to photos from Dwell and other design magazines, as a springboard for questioning the emotions evoked by modern design aesthetics. I argue that there are ways in which modernism is fundamentally in tension with the aesthetics of joy, particularly when it comes to angular forms, desaturated color palettes, and minimalist or restrained tendencies. Though it sounds as if I’m a modernist-hater from the premise, if you’re a regular reader you know that’s not the case. In fact, I’ve posted on the opposite topic — confluences between modernism and joy — more than once before. The post was inspired by the old adage, “it’s funny because it’s true.” I was curious if the humor in Unhappy Hipsters stemmed from a larger, mainly unconscious issue with modern design. The post was an attempt to provoke some reflection on some of the salient features of the style/ideology of modernism and why they might be at odds with positive affect. I’m heartened to see the level of debate and thought in the discussion, and I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.
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