Jamaica Gleaner / Recently, a select group of persons rode the train to happiness with Karen Booker, the Dezign Diva.

Booker and her team hosted an exclusive event at the Jamaica Railway Station, downtown Kingston, incorporating history, beauty, interior design, and psychology.

Right on the old railroad tracks, guests were equally awed and challenged, as the diva joined with psychologist Dr Leachim Semaj to explore the correlation between one’s physical space and well-being, under the theme, ‘Happiness by Design’.

In true diva fashion, Booker gave her guests an adventure and lesson in design. Guests were taken back to the 1920s as Booker, in costume and all, set the pace for a modern-style-meets-the-Great-Gatsby-in-Jamaica experience. Upon entry, guests received their signature drink before being whisked away by hostesses to the mingling area as they awaited Booker’s ‘Happiness Express’.

Booker transformed the 172 year-old train station and coaches into a fabulous vintage-inspired space, awakening its old charm, but with a twist. In its heyday, that area at the station served as a waiting room and a spot to buy tickets for trains leaving downtown Kingston to travel across the island. The Dezign Diva took her decorating skills on the express train, revamping the drab space into an elegant sitting room. The station’s seating of mahogany wooden benches was kept intact, but elevated with brightly coloured cushions, handcrafted by the design expert herself – maintaining the authenticity with a little panache.



With wine in hand and delectable cocktails by Chef Oji Jaja, guests chatted and reminisced on their own experiences in the Kingston of times past, amid iconic street scenes of the city’s capital, which helped set a nostalgic tone. This traditional-meets-contemporary theme was further enhanced by various relics on display including a gramophone, dulciminas, and vintage clocks. This was juxtaposed with a contemporary-meets-traditional decor theme in Coach 1.

“Vintage relics like ‘dulciminas’ and trunks connect us to the past. They connect us to our grandparents, making us feel warm and fuzzy inside,” Booker explained in her presentation on happiness by design, demonstrating how guests could transform their states, by transforming their space. Through illustrations and props, Booker showed how paint colours, decluttering your home, creative storage space, and appropriate lighting can contribute to mood shifts and ultimately, happiness in the home.

The presentation was preceded by a shrill, disrupting conversation, indicating that it was time for the train. As the whistle continued and the engine throttled, guests excitedly boarded Coach 2 of the luxurious Happiness Express for the short, memorable ride.

Underscoring that happiness indeed comes by design, transformation psychologist, Dr Leahcim Semaj, explained how persons can organise their time and lives, reducing stressful situations to facilitate a happy state of mind.

“Happiness is the here and now,” Dr Semaj said, motivating guests to utilise and live each moment to the fullest.


View all posts