Graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister not only tests the boundary between art and design, he often transgresses it through his imaginative implementation of typography. Filling the Institute of Contemporary Art's (ICA) entire second-floor galleries and Ramp, and activating the in-between spaces of the museum, The Happy Show offers visitors the experience of walking into the designer's mind as he attempts to increase his happiness via mediation, cognitive therapy, and mood-altering pharmaceuticals.
"I am usually rather bored with definitions," Sagmeister said. "Happiness, however, is just such a big subject that it might be worth a try to pin it down."
Centered around the designer's ten-year exploration of happiness, this exhibition presents typographic investigations of a series of maxims, or rules to live by, originally culled from Sagmeister's diary, manifested in a variety of imaginative and interactive forms.
To contextualize the maxims that appear throughout the exhibition, Sagmeister has gathered the social data of Harvard psychologists Daniel Gilbert and Steven Pinker, psychologist Jonathan Haidt, anthropologist Donald Symons, and several prominent historians. A 12-minute segment of the Happy Film, a feature length exploration of whether it is possible to train the mind the way we train the body, will also be on view.