Stefan Sagmeister: The Happy Show

In The Happy Show, Stefan Sagmeister, the “grand master of graphic design,” explores and transcends the boundaries between art and design.

The exhibition documents his ten years of ongoing investigation into happiness with the aid of videos, prints, infographics, sculptures, and interactive installations. It takes visitors on a journey through the designer’s way of thinking and his attempts to increase his own happiness by training his mind as others train their bodies.

The Happy Show, which stretches across corridors, staircases, and even includes the museum’s “spaces in between,” is Sagmeister’s second exhibition at the MAK since 2002. In handwritten commentaries on the museum’s walls, bannisters, and bathrooms, Sagmeister elucidates his thoughts and motives for the projects on show. He supplements these personal notes with facts from social science by the psychologists Daniel Gilbert, Steven Pinker, and Jonathan Haidt, the anthropologist Donald Symons, and important historians, to contextualize his experiments with mind and typography.

This inspiring presentation shows the designer’s experiences during a three-month experiment with meditation, cognitive therapy, and mood-altering medication.

[Excerpt taken from the MAK’s website]

IMG_7819 copystefan_sagmeister_3IMG_7665 copyIMG_7668 copy“Everything I do always comes back to me.”

IMG_7670 copyStill from the first 12 minutes from HAPPY FILM, “an investigation, planned as a long movie, on whether I can really train my mind the same way I train my body.”

IMG_7671 copy“Step up to it.” Text sculpture made out of sugar cubes.

IMG_7672 copyIMG_7673 copy“Starting a charity is surprisingly easy.” / “Drugs are fun in the beginning but become a drag later on.”

IMG_7689 copy“If I don’t ask I won’t get it.”

IMG_7682 copy“Self-confidence produces fine results.” Written out of unripe bananas, observed over the course of four weeks.

IMG_7683 copy“Happiness in marriage.”

IMG_7684 copy“How happy is the world?”

IMG_7688 copy“Actually doing the things / I set out to do increases / my overall level of satisfaction. / SEEK DISCOMFORT.”

IMG_7687 copy“It is pretty much impossible to please everybody.”

Bernard Pras, genius of perspective

Bernard Pras is a French artist born in 1952, considered to be one of the most unusual artists of the new generation. After more than 20 years as a painter and sculptor of recovered objects, Pras conceived an astonishing form of expression, using photography and sculpture combined to create art installations that come to life only when observed through a certain angle.

I recently came across some of his work and I was so impressed by it that I had to share it!

Like a large-scale Arcimboldo, Pras’s anamorphic installations are the result of an astoundingly meticulous work which consists in assembling several different objects which all together could very well pass off as a dumpster, but here’s the trick: when photographed at a very well-planned, well-designed angle these objects seem to magically merge into one coherent portrait. The most amazing thing to me is the large scale of these sculptures and the absolutely mind-boggling games of perspective, as these art installations aren’t simply laid flat but they work and combine together on several different layers of perspective. I find it impossible not to marvel at Pras’s incredible eye for perspective and at the amount of work that must go behind the assembly of such sculptures.

Here are pictures of one of his installations, Facteur Cheval, from two different angles and a video that perfectly illustrates his anamorphic process: 2015-11-29 21-22-53

Here it is from an angle… just a bunch of random stuff, right? 2015-11-29 21-21-00

There’s another angle. Again, this just looks like a bit of a mess really.


…and here it is, as seen from the front! Don’t believe it?

I will leave a link to Pras’s portfolio from each of these images, as on his website you have the possibility to look more closely inside the picture as if through a magnifying glass. I find his works can be truly appreciated not only by seeing the final product but also by trying to break it down into the smaller parts which combined it, to look at each individual component and its placement in the overall portrait. I’ve got to admit, I have spent quite an amount of time exploring some of the images that were most puzzling my mind – such as this one which recreates the famous Old Man in Sorrow by Van Gogh. Try having a go by yourself at figuring out how and on how many layers Pras made it!


I also couldn’t help but making a whole new Pinterest board just for him, so be sure to check it out and follow it if you want to see more of his works.

Here is a Making Of video which gives a little insight into his work process:


And finally, here is a collection of some of my favourites:



Click through to see more!

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“Not Another” trend overload

Do we really need to see more pineapples, palm leaves and coloured foam? Have social media helped fire up creativity, or have they contributed to an incoming drought of genuinely new ideas? These and more are the questions that Sara Sturges and Daniella Treija address in their graduation project, Not Another magazine.

The repetition of themes in art and design is something I’ve found myself thinking about a lot lately, since I was assigned the task by my uni lecturers to identify, collate and categorise any recurring trends I was able to spot, using Pinterest as my chosen platform. In my case, these trends refer specifically to fashion image: anything related to art direction, locations, props, styling, casting and even post production can be affected by dominant trends, and my Pinterest account has been busier than ever because as it turns out, this activity can quickly become quite addictive.

However, trends have a sneaky tendency to seep through to a range of other sectors, and don’t limit themselves to just what we wear on a daily basis, like some might assume. If we look back to micro and macrotrends over the past century, it’s easy to see how every decade had a dominant character, a certain flow, a raison d’être of sorts, which encompassed not only clothes and accessories, but a much broader creative culture: architecture, interiors, product design, graphics and illustrations, advertisements, foods and, sometimes, the matrix of a whole new generation’s set of ideals.

“A trend can be emotional, intellectual and even spiritual. At its most basic, a trend can be defined as the direction in which something (and that something can be anything) tends to move and which has consequential impact on the culture, society or business sector through which it moves.”
—Martin Raymond, “The Trend forecaster’s handbook” (2010)

Sturges and Treija point out how the advent of image-sharing platforms such as Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram are responsible for shaping a ‘creative hive-mind mentality’ which has led to replication rather than innovation. This phenomenon of convergence of tastes and aesthethics has gotten creatives and designers stuck in a loop of regurgitation of trends, where the same motif or inspiration is reimagined, repackaged, recreated in a myriad of ways but so fast that it becomes difficult to stand out and not to drown in an ocean of design look-alike’s. “It’s absurd how repetitive design trends have become. […] Where did all the pineapples come from all of a sudden? Every photographer seems to use one for an exotic hint in pictures, but product design has also been infested with this tropical fruit. And what about all the products made from coloured foam or marble?”

These young designers’ project shines the spotlight to this phenomenon by dedicating each monthly edition to one ubiquitous design cliché, as voted by internet users on their social media. I find it a brilliant way to poke fun at these trends while at the same time remind us of the importance of finding truly original solutions and thinking outside the box (or, in this case, the black and white grid?) instead of keeping safely within the designer’s comfort zone of tried-and-tested trends.

photo credits:
WGSN blogs
Do Shop