Stefan Sagmeister is a designer and multimedia artist whose latest project is Happiness.
“The Happy Show” started as an idea for a film, a documentary on the nature of happiness. Sagmeister’s feature-length documentary has remained unfinished while giving birth to this current incarnation of ‘the happy show.’
Stefan’s passion for the subject of happiness shows in both the objective and subjective manifestations that are created by the presentations; that is, in the body and mind and culminating for many as the actually state of “in the moment happiness.”
As a designer Mr. Sagmeister understands the importance of design and happiness in the success of any commercial endeavor. He knows what successful design is, and from a commercial standpoint it’s what Daniel Pink, author of “A Whole New Mind,” called “utility enhanced by significance.”
“The Happy Show” is certainly significant with less need of utility because it is a more direct and authentic expression of his exploration of happiness.
Stefan, according to one newspaper report, has done extensive reading on the subject of happiness, especially in the field of positive psychology. That is obvious in the exhibits. Equally obvious is “The Happy Show’s” deeper spiritual perspective which encompasses the whole of the artist- designer’s expression.
Stefan’s concluded that there are three roads to happiness; a conclusion he reached, reportedly, after much self-testing.
The first two self-test, meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy wouldn’t raise many eyebrows. However, the third will not sit well with some – psychotropic drugs.
In defense of Mr. Sagmeister’s choice (though, I doubt he would feel that he needs defending,) it is certainly not a new approach to true happiness. There’s a rich history in the search for higher awareness (happiness) not only in the shamanistic cultures, but throughout all the worlds wisdom traditions.
The unfortunate side-effect, of this enhancement approach to satisfy our longing for feelings of joy and euphoria, has been, many who have walked this path, addiction to alcohol and drugs and not happiness (You can read more about his approach and results here.)
Fortunately this is not a problem that Mr. Sagmeister appears to be suffering with; in fact one would conclude from his work that his experience of happiness is one that happens now – that for him happiness is not a thing to be pursued.
“The Happy Show” has been on the road traveling to the major metropolitan museums of art across the country, L.A., New York, Philadelphia and Chicago, where most of us will not have the opportunity to experience the show in person.
You may not be able to have the “live and in person” three dimensional experience but thanks to “Tumblr” a two dimensional experience is available.
Stefan Sagmeister is known to many because of his album covers for Talking Heads, Lou Reed, David Byrne and The Rolling Stones, to name a few, as well as innovative ad campaigns, for companies like Levis.
Others have heard of his unique and enviable practice of taking a year off every seventh year, taking on no clients and focusing his creative talents on whatever he desires.
His TED talks have only added to his celebrity.
Because this is an article on happiness, and “The Happy Show” is about design and as a way of accessing happiness, I thought it would be fun to conclude this introduction to Stefan Sagmeister with his talk “Happiness by Design:”