Stefan Sagmeister: The Happy Show brightens up Museum of Vancouver

Image courtesy of Sagmeister & Walsh

Image courtesy of Sagmeister & Walsh

You may have already pondered it while bopping along to the infectious tune by Pharrell Williams. But what really makes us happy? It’s time to find out.

On April 23, the Museum of Vancouver premieres a new exhibition, one of the largest in its 120-year history. It focuses squarely on happiness–with the understanding that it’s not so easy to just “get happy”.

Stefan Sagmeister | Photo courtesy of Sagmeister & Walsh

Stefan Sagmeister | Photo courtesy of Sagmeister & Walsh

The Happy Show was conceived by Stefan Sagmeister, a New York-based designer who blends typography and imagery in striking and unsettling ways.

Sagmeister, who is perhaps best known for his album covers for OK Go, the Rolling Stones, and Lou Reed, has previously documented his struggles with alcohol and drugs, weight gain, and depression. (He’s delivered several TED talks on the topics of happiness and design.)

Every seven years, he takes a year-long break from his clients to creatively recharge. It was on one of these sabbaticals that he tried to define and control his own happiness. The Happy Show is the result of 10 years of research into what makes him happy.

The Happy Show |Photo credit: Katherine Holland

The Happy Show |Photo credit: Katherine Holland

According to a news release, The Happy Show will be an immersive experience “akin to walking into Sagmeister’s mind”.

Exhibits will take over not only museum galleries but spaces like stairwells and restrooms with infographics, video projections, and interactive installations.

Image courtesy of Sagmeister & Walsh

Image courtesy of Sagmeister & Walsh

These include a stationary bike that powers a wall of neon, a giant inflatable monkey, and a series of gumball machines that displays visitors’ collective level of happiness.

Audiences will also be able to preview Sagmeister’s soon-to-be-released documentary, The Happy Film, which shows his attempts to increase his happiness through meditation, cognitive therapy, and pharmaceuticals.

The Happy Show | Photo credit: Katherine Holland

The Happy Show | Photo credit: Katherine Holland

The exhibit will extend outside to the public with a symposium on ideas for happier communities led by expert Professor John Helliwell from the University of British Columbia, and a series of happy hours that will encourage people to meet one another.

Stefan Sagmeister: The Happy Show runs from April 23 to September 7, 2015, at the Museum of Vancouver.

You can follow Carolyn Ali on Twitter @carolynali

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