Like all good designers we like to keep our eyes open and surround ourselves with objects of beauty, interest and inspiration. So, we have started a book club, with each of us choosing a book or resource material each month to share with the team. And now we’ve decided to ‘share the love’ so you can see what we’ve been finding interesting too. Enjoy!
Book #1 Stefan Sagmeister’s ‘Things I have learned in my life so far’
It’s hard to know what to expect from a book like this. Stefan Sagmeister is a controversial designer who has invested body and soul in his work, (for an AIGA lecture in 1999, he famously had the lettering for the event poster carved into his naked body). He is as highly acclaimed as he is reviled and his work crosses the boundaries between design, sculpture, performance art and video. His client list is ripped straight out of the A-list golden pages and yet in 2008, he simply announced a year off from all commercial work, and retreated to Bali.
It is from this year of introspection and exploration that this monograph stems and I for one was surprised at how, logical, kind and thoughtful both the words and the works are. If you are feeling a bit stuck in life, or are looking for inspiration or an excuse to be a little bit braver, this is the ideal book to pick up. The 15 unbound signatures, carefully placed within a die-cut slip case of Sagmeister’s head, are beautifully printed bite sized chunks of inspiration, containing maxims like; “Worrying solves nothing” or “Trying to look good limits my life” and “Having guts always worked out for me”. These maxims are created as built type forms either by Sagmeister or other artists under his direction and are accompanied by his own words around the thought process of the project along with some more weighty essays from contributors. It’s hard to know what to expect but it makes easy, down-to-earth reading and not just that…there is a great sense of beauty, honesty and sharing in these works, but if you want to ask me what is the most striking thing I would take from this book?? Surprisingly, it’s structure.
Yep. Stefan Sagmeister understands it and now in it’s simplest terms so do I…or I aspire to. We all live busy lives and design studios can certainly live up to a hectic lifestyle reputation. And for sure, as designers we all talk about doodling, sketching, testing things and playing about, but the reality is, we rarely get time to. But can we blame studio life? Or is it our own responsibility to make time for exploration and play? Sagmeister discovered that if time isn’t scheduled into your busy day for explorative creativity, doodling or even blogging..it’s just not likely to happen. In fact, Sagmeister on analysing his hectic lifestyle found himself lacking in areas that he felt were important to him, like helping others. So he scheduled it into his day: 1 hour, dedicated to helping others; members of his team, student designers, friends, whoever. By scheduling it in, he made it happen. Among a myriad other things.
So without trying to look too good and with a little bit of guts..I’m carefully scheduling in, a little time for doodling. Among other things.