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Focus on Form and Function: A Q&#38; A With the Authors of 'Design Your Life'

Ellen: A Kindle. It's my love object. I bought it because I travel a lot and love to read. I have thousands of books in my house, but I don't want to have to own everything I read. . . . I love the experience of the Kindle. It is truly a different experience of reading and not just a poor substitute for print.

Julia: A Flip video camera. . . . It's become an extension of our household: a light, easy-to-use, personalized tool for documenting and for creativity.

In a few words, how can good design help make you happier?

Ellen: So much of our experience every day is affected by light, temperature, the comfort of our furniture and by what we can see when we're sitting in it. Making those things pleasurable, beautiful and functional instead of ugly and dirty and oppressive really does, for me, create happiness.

How can a toilet paper holder make you feel happy or secure -- or not?

Ellen: The reason that most people have spring-loaded toilet paper holders is because it feels secure, that the paper's not going to fall off the wall. The open-ended holder makes you feel like you won't have the paper when you most need it. People should ask themselves which is more important: the security of a spring-loaded design that traps paper in a space or the ease of use of an open-ended design -- or no toilet paper holder at all.

What kind of toilet paper holder do you have?

Julia: We both have open-ended holders. . . . Other people notice flowers; we notice the toilet paper.

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