Stefan Sagmeister's The Happy Show moves to Vienna's MAK

Stefan Sagmeister's The Happy Show moves to Vienna's MAK

Graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister's exhibition documenting his psychological and substance-related explorations into happiness has taken up residence at the MAK museum in Vienna (+ slideshow).

Stefan Sagmeister's The Happy Show at MAK in Vienna
Two giant inflatable apes have been added to the museum's atrium

Sagmeister, who founded New York design studio Sagmeister & Walsh in 1993, put the exhibition together after a long period of research into methods of increasing happiness.

Stefan Sagmeister's The Happy Show at MAK in Vienna
A wall of neon tubes shows self help-style statements

The Austrian designer spoke to psychologists and investigated everything from meditation to mood-altering drugs.

His experiments and outcomes are documented in a series of large-scale infographics, installations and oversized typographic pieces.

Stefan Sagmeister's The Happy Show at MAK in Vienna
As the cyclist pedals the installation's lights turn on

Graphics dotted about the show reveal various happiness-related statistics – such as levels compared across different countries, and the kinds of activities that create joy.

Stefan Sagmeister's The Happy Show at MAK in Vienna
As visitors continue to pedal the message of the typographic piece changes and changes colour

A wall of neon tubes only lights up to reveal its motivational messages when a nearby bicycle is pedalled, and a mischievous illustration on an elevator brings a naked couple together when the doors are closed.

Stefan Sagmeister's The Happy Show at MAK in Vienna
Sagmeister visited multiple psychologists while carrying out research for the exhibition

Graphics of self help-style statements adorn the stairs leading up to the museum, and a pair of giant inflatable apes inhabit the atrium – one of which has arms that dangle over the upper balustrade.

Stefan Sagmeister's The Happy Show at MAK in Vienna
Visitors can take a piece of chewing gum from each tube to represent their own level of happiness

Even the bathrooms of the museum have been decorated with handwritten commentaries by Sagmeister.

Stefan Sagmeister's The Happy Show at MAK in Vienna
Visitors can also enjoy the designer's favourite sweets, which are displayed on silver plates held by disembodied mannequin hands

Visitors are invited to participate by pushing buttons, drawing symbols, or contributing to a "How happy are you?" installation by taking a piece of chewing gum from a line-up of tubes marked one to 10.

A collection of disembodied mannequin hands hold out silver platters with the designer's favourite sweets for visitors to take.

Stefan Sagmeister's The Happy Show at MAK in Vienna
Sound is used to create wave patterns in water held in letter-shaped dishes

"I normally find definitions rather boring," said Sagmeister, who also told Dezeen he thought the Star Wars poster was "ultimately a piece of shit" in an interview earlier this year.

Stefan Sagmeister's The Happy Show at MAK in Vienna
Mischievous illustrations decorated the MAK's elevator doors

"But happiness is such a huge topic that it is perhaps worth a try," he added.

Stefan Sagmeister's The Happy Show at MAK in Vienna
Oversized graphics decorate steps around the museum

Sagmeister & Walsh has worked on everything from corporate branding to record cover designs. The agency rebranded New York's Jewish Museum using traditional shapes used in Judaic symbolism, and created an animated visual identity for cloud software management brand Fugue.

Stefan Sagmeister's The Happy Show at MAK in Vienna
Extra large typography leads visitors up the steps and into the museum

The exhibition was originally shown at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia in 2012, and has also travelled to Vancouver and Paris.

The Happy Show opened at the MAK (Museum of Applied Arts) on 27 October 2015 and continues until 28 March 2016.

Images are courtesy of MAK/Aslan Kudrnofsky.