Stefan Saigmeister - The happy designer


If this is the first time you hear about Stefan, it is our pleasure to introduce you to this genius designer, artist, storyteller and your future work guru. Sagmeister is a New-York based artist and co-founder of the Sagmeister & Walsh creative agency in New York City.

 

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Stefan's life dream was to combine two of his passions - music and design. This led him to a journey of working on projects for Rolling Stones, Lou Reed, Jay Z and many other big names in the music industry. His designs of album covers are poetically responding to the music, his sensibility has made this work extraordinary, and his clients ultimately satisfied. He is a true example of a passionate artist who sees design as much more than his career and profession.

 

In fact, what is even more interesting than his work - is his work philosophy, the way he unlocks creativity and keeps his passion for design alive. As a Ted Talk speaker, he brings us his working model and tells us what truly inspires him in talks "Happiness by design", "Things I've learned in my life so far", "The power of time off" and "7 rules for making more happiness”.

 

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In his talks, he reveals his point of view on how happiness is significantly different from the visualization of happiness, how the feeling of joy is connected to design and how design of objects can give us pleasure. If we look at things we enjoy the most, design and function of objects we use has an important role in how much we enjoy a certain activity. Visual happiness has been used lately in a cynical way, as showing happiness and awaking the experience of happiness are two completely different acts.

 

Saigmeister explores the relationship between design and happiness, and while learning new tools, ideas, techniques and inspiring quotes, he creates graphic design art pieces to give credits to these truths about him - sentences like "Money does not make me happy", "Worrying solves nothing", "Having guts always works out for me". He is presenting, from his own example, how the true inspiration for his work lies in his life experiences and the inner thoughts about life itself. These art pieces were created for clients, and while searching for inspiration to answer a task in his profession, he discovered that the answer was already hiding in his diaries and these ideas were waiting to be explored and turned into art and design.

 

His work is focused on record labels, but also magazines, culture facilities, while his collective of designers also exhibits their work in galleries, public spaces, projected videos in art spaces. His statement "Having a diary supports personal development" came out as something he's concluded about himself, and eventually it was presented to the world as an amazing combination of tools explored to create a film and animation, with purpose to share this idea. These statements sometimes end up on billboards, such as "Complaining is silly. Either act or forget." which was placed on a rooftop of their gallery in New York, and for the materials they choose to work with newsprint and stencils on the newsprint. As the sun was changing the color of the newsprint to yellow, they removed the stencil and shipped the print to Lisbon where they placed this work on a billboard. Three weeks later, the sunlight faded the sentence and the billboard turned to yellow completely.

 

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He is also an intriguing individual who created a documentary film about seeking his own happiness and fulfillment, titled "The happy designer". For this film they used natural elements in Bali, bananas, trees, animals and tree climbing, which made the design elements of the film much more interesting and different than everything you've seen so far. Behind this film lies a lot of research around the topic, which shows how much people's happiness depends on social interactions with other people and their loved ones.

 

The highlight of his work and philosophy is, without any doubt, the policy to take time off work for the entire year, every eight years. His studio shuts down for the year, while they experiment, relax, develop a creative lab of just letting their imagination grow and create stunning designs. He seeks this inspiration in nature, just as his film was created during his time off at Bali, and during this period they also built furniture for the studio, inspired by the wild nature as well as the culture and craft practices of Bali.

 

He claims that his sabbaticals are of high importance for his creative work, that taking time off unlocked the creative potential and enabled the time to meditate, read, explore, play and gather inspiration for the next eight years to follow. His book "Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far" is published and can be purchased online.

 

About the author

Nina Petrov is an activist, poet, performer and mathematician. She communicates with the world mostly through words, movement and equations, but sometimes also by speaking very loudly. The only truth she could say about herself is that she keeps changing every day, never stops learning and interacting with her surroundings.


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