Stefan Sagmeister

Stefan Sagmeister is a renowned  Graphic Designer, originally from Austria. His work is known for turning convention upside down and altering popular perceptions, some would say like a trickster.

His career began at 15 when he would write articles for Alphorn magazine, but became more interested in creating the layout for it. He then went to study at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna after being awarded an M.F.A in 1985 and later went on to receive a scholarship to study in Pratt Institute in New York. However, Tibor Kalman was his single most influential designer and through this he called M&Co. everyday for six months until Tibor Kalman agreed to meet him. Eventually he hired Sagmeister and from then his career has continued to grow.

Aiga website wrote;

‘Inspirational and intriguing designer Stefan Sagmeister is recognized for his unorthodox, provocative designs that tweak the status quo and question the designer’s role in society.’

I personally find his work to be  expressive and experimental yet with a sense of control and structure. He seems to take the ordinary and completely alter it, making for new ways of communicating. They are not pieces of work that one would simply walk past and not take any notice of, but are captivating. I like that they are not straightforward and instead are implicit pieces, it takes time for the mind to digest them, through the use of scale, typography, colour and more. He clearly considers each element of his pieces and although may seem random, have their designated place within the design.

Despite being a fan of many pieces of his work, one that caught my eye was a project for Tony Salamé whom is showcasing works from his 2000’s collection at the Aishti Foundation exhibition space, near the Mediterranean coast. The brief entailed conceptualising and designing a ‘campaign around the intersection of fashion and art, whilst also highlighting its location by the sea side.’ (The full brief can be found on the website)

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Immediately the use of bold, contrasting colours caught my eye. I instantly thought that the model in the image was placed in a small room. However, through investigation of the image, I noticed the plants in the background resembled seaweed and also an extremely small chair and further in the foreground there is a small fish which appears to be swimming. It was then that I realised the setting for the image was in a fish tank, thus relating to the location of the event. There are also small links between the model and the background through the colour of her lips and shoes, the red creates the visual link. Furthermore, the style and professionalism of the image has a ‘fashion shoot’ quality to it in my opinion wth the use of lighting.

Overall, I really like how the image subtly combines the elements of the brief, without being too explicit, there is a clear sense of hierarchy, with the model immediately taking the viewer’s attention. It also plays with the senses slightly, through the imbalance of scale in the image and so overall I feel it has been executed very effectively, through answering the brief in a creative and unique manner.

As well as all of this I have seen a TED talk conducted by Stefan Sagmeister titled; ‘Happiness by Design’. It was quite an insightful talk by the famous designer as I felt it gave a slight insight into his world. Seeing some of his moments of happiness was a true reflection of his character and through being open to the world around him, I believe it has helped influence his designs. I find it strange how we sometimes think that happiness stems from sources such as travelling etc. and although they may, true happiness seems to arise from the smaller moments in life, that we may all take for granted, unlike Sagmeister who seems to take note of these moments. I feel that as designers we should all take note of these small experiences, as they could be the ones that spark the best designs and be the biggest influences. As well as that we should all take note of designs that bring out a sense of happiness within us and take inspiration from them.





Author: marislathamgraphics

I am a student at Cardiff Metropolitan University studying BA Hons Graphic Communication.

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