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  • About 15 years ago, I went to visit a friend in Hong Kong.

  • And at the time I was very superstitious.

  • So, upon landing -- this was still at the old Hong Kong airport

  • that's Kai Tak, when it was smack in the middle of the city --

  • I thought, "If I see something good, I'm going to have a great time here in

  • my two weeks. And if I see something negative, I'm going to be miserable, indeed."

  • So the plane landed in between the buildings

  • and got to a full stop in front of this little billboard.

  • (Laughter)

  • And I actually went to see some of the design companies

  • in Hong Kong in my stay there.

  • And it turned out that --

  • I just went to see, you know, what they are doing in Hong Kong.

  • But I actually walked away with a great job offer.

  • And I flew back to Austria, packed my bags,

  • and, another week later, I was again on my way to Hong Kong

  • still superstitions and thinking, "Well, if that 'Winner' billboard is still up,

  • I'm going to have a good time working here.

  • (Laughter)

  • But if it's gone, it's going to be really miserable and stressful."

  • So it turned out that not only was the billboard still up

  • but they had put this one right next to it.

  • (Laughter)

  • On the other hand, it also taught me where superstition gets me

  • because I really had a terrible time in Hong Kong.

  • (Laughter)

  • However, I did have a number of real moments of happiness in my life --

  • of, you know, I think what the conference brochure refers to

  • as "moments that take your breath away."

  • And since I'm a big list maker, I actually listed them all.

  • (Laughter)

  • Now, you don't have to go through the trouble of reading them

  • and I won't read them for you.

  • I know that it's incredibly boring to hear about other people's happinesses.

  • (Laughter)

  • What I did do, though is, I actually looked at them from a design standpoint

  • and just eliminated all the ones that had nothing to do with design.

  • And, very surprisingly, over half of them had, actually, something to do with design.

  • So there are, of course, two different possibilities.

  • There's one from a consumer's point of view --

  • where I was happy while experiencing design.

  • And I'll just give you one example. I had gotten my first Walkman.

  • This is 1983.

  • My brother had this great Yamaha motorcycle

  • that he was willing to borrow to me freely.

  • And The Police's "Synchronicity"

  • cassette had just been released

  • and there was no helmet law in my hometown of Bregenz.

  • So you could drive up into the mountains

  • freely blasting The Police on the new Sony Walkman.

  • (Laughter)

  • And I remember it as a true moment of happiness.

  • You know, of course, they are related to this combination of

  • at least two of them being, you know, design objects.

  • And, you know, there's a scale of happiness when you talk about in design

  • but the motorcycle incident would definitely be, you know,

  • situated somewhere here -- right in there between Delight and Bliss.

  • Now, there is the other part, from a designer's standpoint --

  • if you're happy while actually doing it.

  • And one way to see how happy designers are when they're designing could be to

  • look at the authors' photos on the back of their monographs?

  • (Laughter)

  • So, according to this, the Australians and the Japanese

  • as well as the Mexicans

  • are very happy.

  • (Laughter)

  • While, somewhat, the Spaniards ...

  • and, I think, particularly, the Swiss

  • (Laughter),

  • don't seem to be doing all that well.

  • (Laughter)

  • Last November, a museum opened in Tokyo called The Mori Museum,

  • in a skyscraper, up on the 56th floor.

  • And their inaugural exhibit was called "Happiness."

  • And I went, very eagerly, to see it, because --

  • well, also, with an eye on this conference.

  • And they interestingly sectioned the exhibit off into four different areas.

  • Under "Arcadia," they showed things like this, from the Edo period --

  • a hundred ways to write "happiness" in different forms.

  • Or they had this apple by Yoko Ono -- that, of course, later on

  • was, you know, made into the label for The Beatles.

  • Under "Nirvana" they showed this Constable painting.

  • And there was a little -- an interesting theory about abstraction.

  • This is a blue field -- it's actually an Yves Klein painting.

  • And the theory was that if you abstract an image, you really, you know

  • open as much room for the un-representable --

  • and, therefore, you know, are able to involve the viewer more.

  • Then, under "Desire," they showed these Shunsho paintings --

  • also from the Edo period -- ink on silk.

  • And, lastly, under "Harmony," they had this 13th-century mandala from Tibet.

  • Now, what I took away from the exhibit was that

  • maybe with the exception of the mandala

  • most of the pieces in there were actually about the visualization of happiness

  • and not about happiness.

  • And I felt a little bit cheated, because the visualization --

  • that's a really easy thing to do.

  • And, you know, my studio -- we've done it all the time.

  • This is, you know, a book.

  • A happy dog -- and you take it out, it's an aggressive dog.

  • It's a happy David Byrne and an angry David Byrne.

  • Or a jazz poster with a happy face and a more aggressive face.

  • You know, that's not a big deal to accomplish.

  • It has gotten to the point where, you know, within advertising

  • or within the movie industry, "happy" has gotten such a bad reputation that

  • if you actually want to do something with the subject

  • and still appear authentic, you almost would have to, you know,

  • do it from a cynical point of view.

  • This is, you know, the movie poster.

  • Or we, a couple of weeks ago, designed a box set for The Talking Heads

  • where the happiness visualized on the cover definitely has, very much, a dark side to it.

  • Much, much more difficult is this, where the designs actually can evoke happiness --

  • and I'm going to just show you three that actually did this for me.

  • This is a campaign done by a young artist in New York, who calls himself "True."

  • Everybody who has ridden the New York subway system will be

  • familiar with these signs?

  • True printed his own version of these signs.

  • Met every Wednesday at a subway stop with 20 of his friends.

  • They divided up the different subway lines and added their own version.

  • (Laughter)

  • So this is one.

  • (Laughter)

  • Now, the way this works in the system is that nobody ever looks at these signs.

  • So you're

  • (Laughter)

  • you're really bored in the subway, and you kind of stare at something.

  • And it takes you a while until it actually --

  • you realize that this says something different than what it normally says.

  • (Laughter)

  • I mean, that's, at least, how it made me happy.

  • (Laughter)

  • Now, True is a real humanitarian.

  • He didn't want any of his friends to be arrested,

  • so he supplied everybody with this fake volunteer card.

  • (Laughter)

  • And also gave this fake letter from the MTA to everybody --

  • sort of like pretending that it's an art project

  • financed by The Metropolitan Transit Authority.

  • (Laughter)

  • Another New York project.

  • This is at P.S. 1 -- a sculpture that's basically a square room

  • by James Turrell, that has a retractable ceiling.

  • Opens up at dusk and dawn every day.

  • You don't see the horizon.

  • You're just in there, watching the incredible, subtle changes of color in the sky.

  • And the room is truly something to be seen.

  • People's demeanor changes when they go in there.

  • And, for sure, I haven't looked at the sky in the same way

  • after spending an hour in there.

  • There are, of course, more than those three projects that I'm showing here.

  • I would definitely say that observing Vik Muniz' "Cloud"

  • a couple of years ago in Manhattan for sure made me happy, as well.

  • But my last project is, again, from a young designer in New York.

  • He's from Korea originally.

  • And he took it upon himself to print 55,000 speech bubbles --

  • empty speech bubbles stickers, large ones and small ones.

  • And he goes around New York and just puts them, empty as they are, on posters.

  • (Laughter)

  • And other people go and fill them in.

  • (Laughter)

  • This one says, "Please let me die in peace."

  • (Laughter)

  • I think that was --

  • the most surprising to myself was that the writing was actually so good.

  • This is on a musician poster, that says:

  • "I am concerned that my CD will not sell more than 200,000 units

  • and that, as a result, my recoupable advance

  • from my label will be taken from me,

  • after which, my contract will be cancelled,

  • and I'll be back doing Journey covers on Bleecker Street."

  • (Laughter)

  • I think the reason this works so well is because everybody involved wins.

  • Jee gets to have his project;

  • the public gets a sweeter environment;

  • and different public gets a place to express itself;

  • and the advertisers finally get somebody to look at their ads.

  • (Laughter)

  • Well, there was a question, of course, that was on my mind for a while:

  • You know, can I do more of the things that I like doing in design

  • and less of the ones that I don't like to be doing?

  • Which brought me back to my list making --

  • you know, just to see what I actually like about my job.

  • You know, one is: just working without pressure.

  • Then: working concentrated, without being frazzled.

  • Or, as Nancy said before, like really immerse oneself into it.

  • Try not to get stuck doing the same thing --

  • or try not get stuck behind the computer all day.

  • This is, you know, related to it: getting out of the studio.

  • Then, of course, trying to, you know, work on things

  • where the content is actually important for me.

  • And being able to enjoy the end results.

  • And then I found another list in one of my diaries that actually contained

  • all the things that I thought I learned in my life so far.

  • And, just about at that time, an Austrian magazine called and asked

  • if we would want to do six spreads -- design six spreads

  • that work like dividing pages between the different chapters in the magazine?

  • And the whole thing just fell together.

  • So I just picked one of the things that I thought I learned --

  • in this case, "Everything I do always comes back to me" --

  • and we made these spreads right out of this.

  • So it was: "Everything

  • I do

  • always

  • comes

  • back

  • to me."

  • A couple of weeks ago, a

  • (Laughter)

  • French company asked us to design five billboards for them.

  • Again, we could supply the content for it.

  • So I just picked another one.

  • And this was two weeks ago.

  • We flew to Arizona -- the designer who works with me, and myself --

  • and photographed this one.

  • So it's: "Trying

  • to look

  • good

  • limits

  • my life."

  • And then we did one more of these.

  • This is, again, for a magazine, dividing pages.

  • This is: "Having" --

  • this is the same thing;

  • it's just, you know, photographed from the side.

  • This is from the front.

  • Then it's: "guts."

  • Again, it's the same thing -- "guts" is just the same room, reworked.

  • Then it's: "always

  • works out."

  • Then it's "for," with the light on.

  • (Laughter)

  • And it's "me."

  • Thank you so much.

  • (Applause)

About 15 years ago, I went to visit a friend in Hong Kong.

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A2 US TED laughter happiness design hong kong

【TED】Stefan Sagmeister: Happiness by design (Stefan Sagmeister: Happiness by design)

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    Zenn posted on 2017/12/14
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