The exhibition “The Happy Show” at the “Museum für Gestaltung” in Zurich is presenting the works of the well-known graphic designer and typographer Stefan Sagmeister on the subject of the research on happiness. The exhibition, which runs up to the 11th of March 2018, is dedicated to the question of being happy and it invites you to test your own perception of your happiness. The Happy Show is a pleasurable piece of art in visual communication by the designer, who was born in Austria and who lives in New York. He is also called the “pop star” of graphic design. Through a concentrated explosion of enjoyable information, which is presented in the form of infographics, installations, video works, photographs and exhibits to touch and try out, visitors are encouraged to find out what makes them happy.
What makes us happy?
Scientists and psychologists have been attempting to answer this question from time immemorial. They have also been trying to find rules for this so that the definition of happiness can be derived from them. Happiness is defined as the fulfilment of human desires and ambitions and that, although there is no conscious striving for happiness which can be evidenced through evolution-biological reasons. In spite of this definition, it is considered to be a reaction to stimuli that accompany personal values. It also depends on different social conditions and effect factors, such as, for example, interpersonal relationships or self-determination. Sagmeister has consulted these and several other statistics and results from psychology, from sociological publications and also from economic happiness research. From all of these, he has, on his own, derived rules for being happy, which he transmits in the form of aphorisms that are poetic design gimmicks and word images which communicate the content messages visually.
Before creating all this, Stefan Sagmeister first subjected himself to an experiment in order to research happiness in himself. The objective of the experiment was to find the most effective method to increase happiness in the individual. In order to determine this, he spent a lot of time meditating and in cognitive therapy. In addition, he took mood-altering drugs and wrote down his feelings in a diary. These intimate diary entries, which are displayed in the exhibition, give you a surprisingly open insight into his psyche. The exhibits appear lifelike due to the hand-written comments, which are set down in decorative curved letters on walls, mirrors and even on the floors. Through these, the exhibition becomes a monumental and personal matter regarding Stefan Sagmeister himself. Supplemented by the socio-scientific components, he has also enriched the experiment by the use of statistical data and, through that, he has developed this provocative work, The Happy Show.
The interactive barometer of happiness
The Happy Show is much more than an exhibition: The mix of art, design and science gives it authenticity and provides you with intellectual entertainment. The visitors can determine the answer to being happy on their own, in an interactive way with a kind of over-dimensional chewing gum vending machine. The visitor releases a yellow chewing gum ball out of one of ten tubes. The tubes are each fitted with a number ranging from one (“miserable”) to ten (“ecstatic”). This gives the visitors an idea about their level of happiness.
Drafts of CD covers brought success to Sagmeister
In the 1990s, Stefan Sagmeister, who was born in Bregenz in 1962, achieved an international breakthrough by designing CD covers for music groups such as The Rolling Stones, Talking Heads and Lou Reed. Since then, his reputation as an exceptional designer has always preceded him. He initially started studying to become an engineer, but then changed over to graphic design. After graduating, he got a scholarship from the Pratt Institute in New York. He became extremely popular overnight. His designs were fresh, alive and cheeky because they were different. His style also appealed to large corporations such as Levi’s, Pepsi and Barney’s. Sagemeister’s design studio was inundated with orders and, in a very short time, his studio was one of the most sought-after in that sector.
You can get further information about the opening hours, conducted tours, workshops and the show times of the movie “The Happy Film” at the website of the museum: www.museum-gestaltung.ch.
If you are looking for tips with regard to your stay in Zurich, we recommend our article Zurich, Switzerland – Designers’ Hotspots and as well the Red Dot Design App to see our recommendations for Switzerland on your mobile phone. We wish you a pleasant stay in Zurich.
Posted on 18.01.2018