Ste­fan Sag­meis­ter: The Bold and the Beau­ti­ful

Aus­trian born Ste­fan Sag­meis­ter hardly needs an in­tro­duc­tion. He is the rock­star of graphic de­sign. A gifted speaker with a funny ac­cent and even fun­nier sto­ries. His state­ments and life­style choices are as bold as his ty­pog­ra­phy. His iconic work mixes th


No Pain no Gain

How much are you will­ing to suf­fer for your art? Prob­a­bly not as much as Sag­meis­ter, who or­dered an in­tern to cut the copy into his skin. Aaaah, that must have hurt.


Books feed your mind. You even eat off the cover of this one. Sag­meis­ter cooked up a fin­ger lickin’ good idea for Deitch Projects, a New York gallery spe­cialised in in­stal­la­tion art. Beware, the de­sign is not dish wash­ing proof.


This iconic poster was in­spired by Ira­nian artist Shirin Ne­shat, fa­mous for scrib­bling Ara­bic cal­lig­ra­phy on hands and feet. Lou Reed - the face of Un­der­ground mu­sic - serves as a hu­man can­vas for the lyrics of ‘Trade In.’ The al­bum ti­tle ‘Set the Twi­light Reel­ing’ lit­er­ally be­comes a head­line.

Light my Fire

An­nual re­ports can be a bur­den, this one’s a gift. De­signed for light­ing com­pany Zum­to­bel, the cover fea­tures five flow­ers in a vase, sym­bol­is­ing the five sub­di­vi­sions of the brand. In­side, the same mo­tive is pho­tographed un­der dif­fer­ent light con­di­tions, demon­strat­ing the com­pany’s knowhow.

Take it to Street

Lux­ury de­part­ment store Ai­zone is one of the rare Le­banese clients still us­ing out­door as an eq­uity builder, not a price pro­mo­tor. These care­fully cu­rated vi­su­als al­most seem an ex­ten­sion of owner Tony Salamé’s art col­lec­tion. The work con­stantly bal­ances be­tween 2D and 3D. Ty­pog­ra­phy is taken to new places and faces. The ear­lier posters use body paint­ing to sell fash­ion. It’s a Brave New World filled with ref­er­ences to Pop Art, Rus­sian con­struc­tivism and De Stijl. Trippy.

Artsy Fartsy

Bono once com­pared each U2 song to a per­fume. “And we made some stinkers too” he ad­mit­ted. This in­vi­ta­tion clearly ques­tions the na­ture of sem­i­nars. The speaker doesn’t take him­self too se­ri­ously. Or is he just sell­ing air?

Mu­sic to my Eyes

While de­sign­ing the cor­po­rate iden­tity for Porto’s Casa de Mu­sica, Sag­meis­ter quickly re­alised that the Rem Kool­haas build­ing it­self is a logo. His stu­dio de­vised a unique sys­tem to use ev­ery facet of the edgy ar­chi­tec­ture. Dif­fer­ent out­lines be­come graphic spa­ces filled in with dif­fer­ent vi­su­als and colours, de­pend­ing on the mu­sic. How big do you want the logo? As big as a build­ing!

A Ballsy De­ci­sion

The cover of ‘Bridges to Baby­lon’ - the ’97 Stones al­bum - fea­tures a fierce Assyr­ian lion stuck in a trans­par­ent slip­case. Naughty de­tail crit­ics will quickly no­tice that the King of Beast is miss­ing some eh … parts. “Why did you re­move them?” later asked Mick Jag­ger at a party. Sag­meis­ter swore never to self­cen­sor his work again.

Cold Turkey

This ra­zor sharp de­sign is part of a se­ries of six dou­ble spreads in an Aus­trian mag­a­zine. Put to­gether, the copy reads: Drugs / are fun / in the be­gin­ning / but / be­come a drag / later on. Mmm, how did the cre­atives dream up those hal­lu­ci­nat­ing vi­su­als?

Happy End­ing

Ev­ery seven years, the Arnold of Art Di­rect­ing locks the door of his NY based stu­dio. “I’ll be back” af­ter yet an­other sab­bat­i­cal. Ig­nor­ing all client re­quests for one en­tire year, Sag­meis­ter’s jour­neys in­spire fresh think­ing. The fruits of his cre­ative soul-search­ing can be seen in ‘The Happy Film.’ Ty­pog­ra­phy be­comes mon­key busi­ness. The same ex­otic flavour is also present in his ‘Stan­dard Char­tered’ TVC. Tell your boss you re­ally need that hol­i­day in Bali.

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