Ste­fan Sag­meis­ter – The Hap­py Show

Posted on Nov 15, 2015 in Design, Event, Grafikdesign

The Hap­py Show

An inter­view with Ste­fan Sag­meis­ter

Novem­ber 17, 2015 | Cate­go­ry: Gra­phicde­sign & Event

Stefan Sag­meis­ter is an aus­tri­an desi­gner, who lives in New York. His work is inspi­ring peop­le from all over the world. We had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to ask him a few ques­ti­ons about The hap­py show, his cur­rent exhi­bi­ti­on at the Aus­tri­an Muse­um of App­lied Arts (MAK).

How did the idea of an exhi­bi­ti­on about hap­pi­ness deve­lop? Did the TED-Talk The sur­pri­sing sci­ence of hap­pi­ness by Dan Gil­bert have an impact?
At the very same TED whe­re Dan Gil­bert tal­ked about The sur­pri­sing sci­ence of hap­pi­ness in 2004, I tal­ked about Design and Hap­pi­ness. It was the good feed­back to this talk that made me revi­sit the sub­ject 5 years later while on sab­ba­ti­cal and made me deci­de to start a docu­men­ta­ry film on hap­pi­ness. Dan Gilbert’s and my ways crossed many times sin­ce and he has cer­tain­ly been an enor­mous influ­ence.

I laug­hed when I read the fol­lo­wing sen­tence in the exhibition’s book­let: If you regu­lar­ly weep into your pil­low at night, visi­t­ing [this show at] the MAK won’t keep you from doing so. You say, that the goal behind this sen­tence was to lower expec­ta­ti­ons, so it would be easier to exci­te the visi­tors. I guess you have to meet gre­at expec­ta­ti­ons con­si­de­ring your pro­mi­nence. What stra­te­gies do you use to hand­le that expec­ta­ti­ons?
I do think that low expec­ta­ti­ons are a good stra­te­gy. I do tend to enjoy films I dis­co­ver by chan­ce by mys­elf much more, than films that were recom­men­ded by all my fri­ends as must-sees. It is dif­fi­cult for me to deve­lop a stra­te­gy for this, as I can’t arti­fi­ci­al­ly lower my expec­ta­ti­ons. For examp­le, in rela­ti­ons­hips, it is sil­ly of me to expect my part­ner to be beau­ti­ful, kind, smart, sophisti­ca­ted and adven­tur­ous, and even though I know this, its dif­fi­cult to accept when it is not so.

One of your pie­ces of advice at the show is, that com­p­lai­ning is sil­ly, eit­her act or for­get. Do you think about that often? In what situa­ti­ons?
I might catch mys­elf star­ting to com­p­lain in my head about a cli­ent, and when I’m in good shape, I can stop it: Eit­her I can do some­thing about it and try to chan­ge the situa­ti­on, or I accept the situa­ti­on and move on.

Stefan Sagmeister – The Happy Show Exhibition Photo 15

MAK Exhi­bi­ti­on View, 2015 – STEFAN SAGMEISTER: The Hap­py Show, Ever­y­bo­dy Always Thinks They Are Right, 2007. In col­la­bo­ra­ti­on with Moni­ka Aiche­le, Mat­thi­as Ernst­ber­ger, and Spor­to­go. MAK Colum­ned Main Hall | © MAK/Aslan Kudrn­of­sky

Stefan Sagmeister – The Happy Show Exhibition Photo 2

MAK Exhi­bi­ti­on View, 2015 – STEFAN SAGMEISTER: The Hap­py Show, Actual­ly Doing the Things I Set Out to Do Increa­ses My Over­all Level of Satis­fac­tion, 2012. Exe­cu­ti­on: Kevin O’Cal­la­han. MAK Per­ma­nent Collec­tion Con­tem­pora­ry Art | © MAK/Aslan Kudrn­of­sky

In the exhi­bi­ti­on visi­tors are asked about their level of hap­pi­ness. What about yours?
Right now, tru­ly fan­tastic. Last week I had a (very rare) num­ber 10 day, right now likely an 8.

A lot of your work has a con­nec­tion to music. Fur­ther­mo­re music seems to influ­ence emo­ti­ons. Can you name a par­ti­cu­lar song that makes you hap­py?
Music rou­ti­ne­ly asserts a big­ger influ­ence on my mood than any of the other arts. One song that just ran in the stu­dio had per­ked me up nume­rous times: Glass Ani­mals – Black Mam­bo.

Visi­t­ing your show made me feel like I could pro­fit from your life les­sons. Which par­ti­cu­lar les­son is espe­ci­al­ly important for desi­gners?
Having guts always works out for me. Its the one les­son I know well, but still have not inter­na­li­zed com­ple­te­ly, I still have to talk mys­elf into it time after time again. My self-cen­sor­ship keeps me from not try­ing out things I should.

If you take a look at the latest pro­jec­ts at Design made in Aus­tria, which ones do you like and why?
Of cour­se, the Alm­dud­ler iden­ti­ty. Becau­se I love the pro­duct. And it is very appro­pria­te­ly desi­gned. The Land­ja­e­ger Maga­zin, becau­se it con­tains strong ide­as well exe­cu­t­ed (pret­ty much a defi­ni­ti­on of good design) and the Good Forks pho­to­gra­phy of Mari­on Lut­ten­ber­ger, becau­se she is lovely, won­der­ful, pro­fes­sio­nal and we work with her a lot.

Thank you for your time. It was a plea­su­re!


Ope­ning: Tues­day, 27 Octo­ber 2015, 7 p.m.
Exhi­bi­ti­on Venue: MAK, Stu­ben­ring 5, 1010 Vien­na
Exhi­bi­ti­on Dates: 28 Octo­ber 2015 – 28 March 2016
Ope­ning Hours: Tue 10 a.m.–10 p.m., Wed–Sun 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Free admis­si­on on Tues­days from 6–10 p.m.

More about the MAK

Ste­fan Sag­meis­ter

Stefan Sagmeister
Ste­fan Sag­meis­ter has worked for the Rol­ling Stones, The Tal­king Heads, Lou Reed, and The Gug­gen­heim Muse­um. Exhi­bi­ti­ons on Sagmeister’s work have been moun­ted in New York, Phil­adel­phia, Tokyo, Osa­ka, Seo­ul, Paris, Lau­sanne, Zurich, Vien­na, Pra­gue, Colo­gne & Ber­lin.

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