In studies on human happiness, it’s been proven that many people feel best when they enter a state of “flow,” which, according to psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, results in a person’s “complete immersion in an activity.”

When you reach a state of flow, you lose track of distractions. People in creative jobs — myself included — are lucky to find ourselves immersed in our work on a regular basis.

This idea remained top of mind after I was invited to dinner at GT Prime in Chicago with a group of restaurant designers and consultants by one of our rd+d awards judges, Sonny Sultani, CEO of SONNY + ASH. During dinner, I sat next to the restaurant’s designer, Karen Herold of Studio K Creative. We enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation. I was struck by how this circle of creative people — already vibrant personalities — seemed to reach an even higher level when talking about work, particularly when discussing the dedication and energy they put into their projects.

And later, as I read through all of the submissions to the rd+d awards), I was struck by how thoroughly restaurant designers consider flow in their own work. 

Of course, in restaurant design, flow usually refers to traffic: the way patrons make their way into the building, the way they find their way to seats, the way staff moves from station to station without endlessly bumping into each other, the way the careful orchestration of people and food move in and out and back and forth through a space to ensure guests have a meal that flows seamlessly from initial greeting to cashing out.

These disparate but oddly related ideas of flow have been on my mind since our last issue went to press. Perhaps it’s the end of a fairly tumultuous year of political drama and international crises (not to mention the deaths of numerous pop culture icons), but it seems increasingly important that in 2017 we seek a place — whether immersing ourselves in a creative task or seeking refuge in a physical space, like a favorite dining or coffee spot — that provides a state of flow.

In assembling this issue of rd+d, I was able to achieve it. Hopefully some of the content in this issue will inspire your professional endeavors and help you achieve it, too.

P.S. For a clickable table of contents and bonus content click here