Adrian Peter Tse
Sep 29, 2014

Stefan Sagmeister: Do the things you set out to do

SPIKES ASIA - With the kind of love, science and sexiness that might go into building a German sports car, Stefan Sagmeister explores the topic of design and happiness.

Stefan Sagmeister discusses design and happiness at Spikes Asia.
Stefan Sagmeister discusses design and happiness at Spikes Asia.

Please see all of our Spikes Asia 2014 coverage here

“To refresh myself, I close my agency for a year and don’t do any work for clients,” Sagmeister, co-founder of Sagmeister & Walsh and president of the Design jury at Spikes Asia 2014, said during his seimar Friday. “And then I work on something that I really want to work on.” His most recent project was to explore the nature of happiness and its relationship to design.

With published books to his name, Sagmeister chose to pursue his ‘happiness’ project in film format for the first time—something that was both “refreshing and very challenging” despite his design background. The films also linked to an exhibit, 'The Happiness Show'.

Each slide in Sagmeister’s presentation showed simple, yet powerful graphic design. The films were similarly visually focused, featuring minimal and pulsing soundtracks that symbolised different aspects of happiness being explored.

Here’s a summary of the session:

  • There are three strategies for happiness: Meditation, cognitive therapy, drugs.
  • The conscious mind is like a rider; the unconscious mind is like an elephant. The rider think he’s in control but the elephant can do as it pleases.
  • Emotions: Joy is the only positive emotion; other emotions are in the middle but most are in the negative spectrum.
  • Humans have a negativity bias. “If you blamed the media for delivering bad news, you need to blame yourself because the news just broadcasts what the people want.”
  • Do the things you set out to do. Create deadlines. Each time you don’t do something, it leaves a residue in your brain that can bring you down.
  • Presentism is part of human nature: You see what you choose to see and by and large, dismiss the rest.
  • Developing thankfulness can help you become a happier person.
  • Fostering sympathetic empathy can help you become a happier person.
  • Nurturing humility can help you become a happier person.
  • Key points for happiness: have many friends, have good friends, have a sense of accomplishment, do non-repetitive activities, religion, sing in groups.

Campaign’s observation: The presentation was interesting and beautifully crafted, but the ideas one took away were very general. It looks like there’s more to explore in Sagmeister’s ‘The Happiness Show’, works of film and publications.

Sagmeister's 'The Happiness Show' features a self-explanatory elevator door.



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