THE HAPPY SHOW: Last Weekend to View it at Toronto’s Design Exchange

What is happiness to you?

Is it the same as joy? Is happiness a series of contained moments? Or is it more like what Luminato’s Artistic Director Jorn Weisbrodt discovered from his 102 year old grandmother – that happiness is when we settle into our role in life and live it well creating a constant state of well being.

On Tuesday evening at the Design Exchange some of the talented and creative spirits in our city were gathered together to share what they know about happiness.

For Vanessa Eckstein and Marta Cutler of Blok Design it has something to do with being mothers. “You can’t find better inspiration than children” and they from that they were motivated to put their design talents to work creating children’s books.

“Lampyro’s publishing program invites renowned contemporary artists of international repute to show us their interpretation of transforming the ordinary into the extra-ordinary. We believe that by guiding children’s inherent curiosity through artists’ eyes, unconventional means of perception become familiar. This freedom to believe becomes a fundamental element of their world view, helping to shape the person they become.” (cited from

Caca Grande (Big Poop)
from blokdesign on Vimeo.

For artist and illustrator Gary Taxali “Happiness is about being silly.” Giving himself the permission to be just that has resulted in a successful career and international recognition. Around the world he is now known for his iconic work that speaks to his wonderful sense of absurdity. 

fun illustrations in retro comic style and headshot of man with glasses

And although with every speaker (interior designer Christine Ralphsarchitect Ralph Giannone, landscape architect Claude Cormier, architect Meg Graham) I happily shared some common ground it was with Armenian-Canadian actress / producer Arsinée Khanjian that I shared my bliss – rich French desserts, the deep Klein Blue skies of the Mediterranean, and the magical love story of Mary & Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music. I must confess, that just like Arsinée, that since childhood I have been tearing up the moment Georg looks deep into Mary’s eyes and sings:

Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could
So somewhere in my youth or childhood I must have done something good

What makes me happy is that Rogers and Hammerstein inspired me to believe that love can arrive unexpectedly in the most difficult of times and in the most unusual ways.

The Happy Show is what came out of internationally renowned graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister’s last sabbatical.

Stefan decided that every seventh year he would take a 365 day break to rest and play then see what bubbles up to the surface. This show is one of his creative bubbles.

“The Happy Show offers visitors the experience of walking into the designer’s mind as he attempts to increase his happiness via meditation, cognitive therapy, and mood-altering pharmaceuticals. “I am usually rather bored with definitions,” Sagmeister says. “Happiness, however, is just such a big subject that it might be worth a try to pin it down.” Centered around the designer’s ten-year exploration of happiness, this exhibition presents typographic investigations of a series of maxims, or rules to live by, originally culled from Sagmeister’s diary, manifested in a variety of imaginative and interactive forms.” (cited from

After touring around The Happy Show with a friend I asked him if I could get a quote about it. Sure he said – “Quote, unquote this show makes me happy.”
Do you need any other reason to go?!

The Happy Show ends this Sunday, March 3.
More info on and as well as on Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art’s tumblr blog for the show.

Which gumball machine would you choose? My friend is actually happier than 5, he was just following the lead of the very happy toddler in front of him.

Outside our level of comfort we discover the magic inside of us.

What would you draw?

Canadians are doing ok!

Don’t forget to press the button at the end of the show and await further instructions…

This show comes with free candy.

Images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

2 thoughts on “THE HAPPY SHOW: Last Weekend to View it at Toronto’s Design Exchange

  1. Pingback: HAPPINESS: What’s Your Symbol? | MIXED BAG MAG

  2. Pingback: HAPPINESS IS: Backflips on The Streets of Toronto | MIXED BAG MAG

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