Most people can name a few things that make them happy right away. French pressed coffee, a restorative yoga class, dancing, pizza topped with pineapple. When it comes to finding Happiness in the life-long, inner-peace, capital-letter sense, however, a fresh cup of French roast falls a little flat. Stefan Sagmeister seems to have had a similar thought. The designer who is famous as famous for his unique album covers for the likes of OK Go and The Rolling Stones as he is for his extended sabbaticals (and that naked postcard thing he is probably sick of talking about). For the past decade, Sagmeister has explored an interesting idea: “Can I train my mind in the same way I can train my body?”
And from cognitive therapy to meditation to mood-altering drugs, he tried it all in search of happiness. The results of such dabbling will be showcased in “Six Things,” Sagmeister & Walsh’s first exhibition under the design duo’s collective firm name, at The Jewish Museum in New York City. “Six Things” is aptly named for six principles Sagmeister believes increase his personal happiness (not that coffee did not make the list).
- If I Don’t Ask I Won’t Get
- Keeping a Diary Supports Personal Development
- Be More Flexible
- It Is Pretty Much Impossible to Please Everybody
- Now Is Better
- Feel Others Feel
In the exhibition, water balloons, sugar cubes and other materials are used to spell out these phrases in five short videos and a sound-activated sculpture. You can experience “Six Things” through Aug. 4. For those who enjoy the exhibit, Sagmeister’s documentary “The Happiness Film,” which follows his search for happiness, is expected to be released this year.
Sagmeister addresses the film on the Sagmeister & Walsh website by saying:
When I did research for this film and read many, many psychology books on happiness, I found that whenever a scientist talked about something that had actually happened to her, a personal experience, I took this much more seriously than when she wrote about a survey she conducted. So I changed the direction of the film from a general documentation on the subject to focus mainly on personal experiences, hoping that viewers would have the same reaction as I had. The film in itself will not make viewers happy (in the same way as watching Jane Fonda exercise won’t make you lose weight), but I do hope that it might be the little kick in the ass to some viewers to explore these directions, like meditation or cognitive therapy. Hopefully it will be a proper look at major strategies serious psychologists recommend that improve well-being; they include meditation, cognitive therapy and psychological drugs. I will try them all out and report back on the results.
Don’t forget to enter your own best in-house project in the In-HOWse Design Awards & Competition by May 1.