Better living through typography? See it, believe it, achieve it at The Happy Show, an exhibition of Stefan Sagmeister’s work that opens Wednesday at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (it will travel to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles early next year). “I am usually rather bored with definitions,” says Sagmeister. “Happiness, however, is just such a big subject that it might be worth a try to pin it down.” The fruits, both literal and figurative, of the designer’s ten-year exploration of happiness will be on display through August 12.
The ICA promises a portal into Sagmeister’s mind as he experiments with potential happiness inducers ranging from from meditation and cognitive therapy to mood-altering drugs and maxims spelled out in jaw-dropping flights of typographic fancy. Visitors will also get a sneak peek at the Happy Film, his still-in-the-works documentary (check out the titles in the below video). Slated for release in 2013, the feature will offer “a proper look at all the strategies serious psychologists recommend that improve well-being,” according to Sagmeister, who decided to do the project as a film in part to stave off the complacency that can come from working in familiar media. “It might fail miserably,” he says. “But if I’ve gotten a hair happier in the process, it might have been worth my while.” Until you can make it to Philadelphia, check in with the ICA’s Happy Show Tumblr, which chronicled the preparation of invitations to next week’s opening party: slices of bologna laser-cut to reveal the word “HAPPY.”