De­signer Sag­meis­ter talks about Italy as muse

The China Post - - ARTS & LEISURE - BY ELLA IDE

Award-win­ning graphic de­signer Ste­fan Sag­meis­ter, famed for his work with the Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and Aero­smith, says the con­cept of beauty in de­sign is back.

The New-York based Aus­trian tipped Am­s­ter­dam, Lon­don and Zurich as the hottest places for young de­sign­ers right now, but in an in­ter­view in Rome he said a cre­ative shift has given the Ital­ian cap­i­tal the op­por­tu­nity to steal the show.

“World­wide, beauty is re­ally com­ing back into de­sign, no other city in the world has so much beauty. De­sign­ers who suc­cess- fully trans­late Italy’s Baroque or Re­nais­sance for the 21st cen­tury will have found a pot of gold,” he said.

Born in 1962, Sag­meis­ter, inspired by the punk aes­thetic, forged his name de­sign­ing graph­ics and brand­ing for clients in­clud­ing HBO, Time Warner and the Guggen­heim Mu­seum, pick­ing up a Grammy in 2005 for the de­sign of a box set of works by 1980s in­die giants Talk­ing Heads.

The de­signer takes a year­long sab­bat­i­cal ev­ery seven years — the last one in In­done­sia, the next a closely- guarded se­cret — and for the past few years has staged talks and ex­hi­bi­tions on his phi­los­o­phy,

dubbed “the happy show.”

The Im­por­tance of Sur­prise

Tall and an­gu­lar with a rau­cous laugh, Sag­meis­ter — who has doc­u­mented his strug­gles with al­co­hol, drugs, weight gain and de­pres­sion — has an in­fec­tious play­ful­ness about him.

“I very much em­brace hu­mor. By def­i­ni­tion ev­ery punch­line has a sur­prise in it, and I think a sur­prise is su­per im­por­tant when you are deal­ing with clients,” he told AFP ahead of a show in Rome called “Road to Cre­ativ­ity.”

Inspired by a break­fast chat this week with Hel­mut Leder, a Ger­man ex­pert in psy­chol­ogy of the arts, he de­scribes his thrill at dis­cov­er­ing sur­prises “can open you up for beauty, sci­en­tif­i­cally.”

“When you look sur­prised your eyes are wider ... so from a phys­i­cal point of view you see more. If you first de­liver a sur­prise and then fol­low up with some­thing beau­ti­ful you will en­gage the viewer more,” he said.

Sag­meis­ter was also in the Ital­ian cap­i­tal to judge a con­test at Rome’s Rufa Univer­sity of Fine Arts, in which stu­dents had to de­sign works un­der the theme, “Things I have learned in my life so far.”

The idea came from his “de­sire to use what I’ve learned as a lan­guage, the graphic de­sign lan­guage, in some­thing that’s much more per­sonal, more di­rect.”

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