Some of the PSFK team visited a new exhibition by design pioneer Stefan Sagmeister over the weekend. His new show at the ICA Philadelphia is a reflection on happiness, his pursuit of it and his learnings about the subject.
While the Happy Show features the culmination of years of work, Sagmeister’s art seems to be very connected with the current infographic design trend and also our curiosity of the quantified self. And while, he is neither a chart-maker nor a data-diarist like Nick Felton, he uses his skills of design to bring to life his thesis on happiness.
Some portions of the exhibit are interactive: A camera looked for smiles and when a museum goer stopped to grin through a picture frame, a sculpted ‘Step Up To It’ illuminated in several colors. Elsewhere visitors could wave their hands and play with a web with the words ‘Being Not Truthful Works Against Me’ projected on it.
A more analog interactive feature asked visitors to submit drawings of happiness (no smiley faces allowed!) — or to take an activity card and walk through the exhibit responding to suggestions on the card: these included walking with just one shoe or with your fly open.
Another exhibit wanted to measure how happy the audience was by asking visitors to take a gum-ball from a row of machines numbered one through to ten. These numbers stand for your relative level of happiness. As more visitors attend and take a ball, the level of each machine will be a kind of graph to show how happy people are (My 4 year old son Cy went straight for 10, I didn’t quite know what to pick).
Graphics on a corridor wall bring statistics and sociological theories to life. Sagmeister presented Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and various stats about life, salaries, sex and happiness.
It’s an impressive show and if you find yourself in the city of brotherly love, then the Samgemister Happy Show is a must. Click the thumbnails below to see more images: