Most of you know Stefan Sagmeister as the award-winning New York-based designer responsible for the provocative album covers for: The Rolling Stones, Lou Reed of The Velvet Underground and The Talking Heads – just to name an impressive few.

Apparently, Sagmeister goes on a year-long sabbatical once every seven years where he refreshes, refocuses and recharges – and won’t take any work from clients. A coveted luxury if you can afford it and it was during one of those extended hiatuses that Sagmeister created The Happy Show.

Real-life typography - Top: "drugs are fun in the beginning but they become a drag later on.”

The product of the artist’s real-life happiness experiment, The Happy Show is a gratifying showcase of Sagmeister’s ruminations during his time of soul searching trial and error. A multi-disciplinary exhibit of racy bar graphs, interactive art pieces and real-life typography all pulled together by handwritten, sharpie-scrawled musings. Sagmeister’s notions, such as: “trying to look good limits my life,” and “keeping a diary supports personal development,” were whimsical and honest – and had every attendee enjoying a deep thought or two.

Beyond the personal narrative, Sagmeister also incorporates social data from psychologists Daniel Gilbert, Steven Pinker and Jonathan Haidt – along with the ideas of anthropologist Donald Symons (and several prominent historians) to add context to his experiments. Thought-provoking and educational, Sagmeister’s exhibit encourages you to touch, laugh, interact and have fun – unlike most art shows that usually hold you at an arm’s length.

A bicycle-powered light show - "actually doing things I set out to do increases my overall level of satisfaction. Seek Discomfort."

Although upon entering, a note from the artist cautions: “this exhibition will not make you happier… if you regularly weep into your pillow at night, visiting the Design Exchange won’t keep you from doing so,” but quite the contrary: The Happy Show was an absolute joy to experience. Although the nature of his ideas weren’t ground-breaking, they served as a none-too-gentle reminder of how important (and simple) it really is to become happier.

The Happy Show runs from January 9th to March 3rd 2013 at The Design Exchange at 234 Bay St.

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