On Tuesday night, we got the first peak at a new, uplifting exhibit at Toronto’s Design Exchange, The Happy Show. The evening began with a VIP tour led by the artist behind the exhibit, internationally renowned graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister. Unlike anything we’d seen, the exhibit is thought-provoking (and appropriate in the dead of winter) in its exploration of what makes us happy. This includes everything from genetics to love, relationships and money. New York City-based Sagmeister has done impressive campaigns for Levis, designed album covers for the likes of The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and Talking Heads, and is known for his provoking pubic art installations. The Happy Show allows visitors the opportunity to step inside of his convoluted mind as he attempts to increase his happiness via meditation, cognitive therapy and mood-altering pharmaceuticals during his ten-year exploration of happiness.
Insight on happiness is shared through things like interactive projections, digital prints, aluminum sheets, wallpapered prints, pie-chart tables, film and even massive gumball dispensers. The exhibit also features a 20-minute film segment of The Happy Film, a feature-length exploration of whether it is possible to train the mind the way we train the body. It is filled with relevant sayings as a series of rules to live by (originally culled from Sagmeister’s diary), which are conveyed through different art forms. Sagmeister features interesting stats and social data from renowned psychologists and historians to support these maxims. Some of our favourites?
“It is Pretty Much Impossible To Please Everyone”
“Being Not Truthful Works Against Me”
“Money Doesn’t Make Me Happy”
“Trying to Look Good Limits My Life”
“Starting a Charity is Surprisingly Easy”
So, what is happiness broken down? Apparently, it is 50 per cent genetics (which is probably why, as the saying goes, money can’t buy happiness), 40 per cent activities and 10 per cent life conditions. Love, obviously, makes us happy. The exhibit examines different types of love, however – passionate versus compassionate, with the former probably a lot more fun but the latter more sustainable. In terms of financial influences, Sagmeister says that if he lives in the US and makes over $80,000, then any additional dollar earned makes almost no difference whatsoever on levels of happiness. Apparently, it makes no difference to your wellbeing if you make $100,000 per year or $1,000,000 per year; it will get rid of some problems but add others in exchange. Other exhibit highlights include a massive neon sign that lights up with “My Overall Level of Satisfaction,” with the peddling of a stationary bike, an impossible-to-turn-away-from video and even ginger candies.
The Happy Show may temporarily relieve some of those winter blues, but, as it states at the entrance, “This exhibition will not make you happier…” Check it out for yourself!
The exhibit runs until March 3rd. Admission is $15 or free for DX members.