Things I have learned in my life so far Paperback – Feb 1 2008
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Many consider Stefan Sagmeister to be our most important living designer, but he reaches beyond design circles in sharing 20 Things I have learned in my life so far, including the fact that "keeping a diary supports personal development." Proving his point, this book grew from a list in his diary during a year-long commercial hiatus. He returned to paid work with greater freedom from clients and himself, and created a series of projects spelling out personal truths--"worrying solves nothing," "trying to look good limits my life," and other simple, meaningful statements. Most are public and interactive (words spelled out on the backs of swimmers in the Hudson River, or displayed by enormous blow-up monkeys lounging around Scotland, or flaming in Singaporean bamboo scaffolding), while others are more private experiments with intriguing materials (sausages, cacti, sperm). All are presented--along with personal anecdotes supporting his assertions, and notes on the projects' creation--in an alluringly interactive format: a "box" of 15 booklets with unique covers that can be switched to transform the look of the case from creepy to lovely. --Mari Malcolm
From Publishers Weekly
In 2000, Austrian born, New York-based graphic designer Sagmeister created this book's eponymous list in his diary, including twenty statements such as: "Trying to Look Good Limits My Life," "Assuming is Stifling" and "Worry Solves Nothing." These "maxims," which Sagmeister admits verge on the "banal" but which are also devoid of cynicism, were transformed into art projects: "Assuming is Stifling" graced the cover of a Japanese annual report; "Everybody Always Thinks They are Right" was represented by six 33-foot white inflatable monkeys, each one displaying a different word. This "design book for non-designers" is itself an experiment in form, comprised of 15 booklets in a box whose cover is a cut out of Sagmeister's face; when inserted, each completes the portrait in a different way. One of the booklets includes essays on Sagmeister's oeuvre, the most interesting by critic Heller, who states: "This is truly the nexus of art and design in the service of expression." This book is bound to be of interest to followers of Sagmeister's work, as well as to the general reader in search of an invigorating approach to graphic design and, one might argue, autobiography.
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I have always admired Stefan Sagmeister's ability to bring together a sincerity of purpose with a lot of (obvious) fun in the realization of his projects. I myself had a lot of fun reading and looking at this "book", after having seen the same titled show in New York City, detecting details that escaped me at the very crowded gallery, chuckling at the whimsy and imagination that went into it.
As in "Made You Look", Stefan wraps his pieces with delightful and sometimes very personal stories and anecdotes, which definitely adds to the overall impression that this is not just another design book, it's a great way to meet an artist/designer who has something to say, and who does it well.
I bought five copies at the show, they make great gifts. Maybe I should have waited for the amazon discount, though. Highly recommended.
Buy one for yourself, buy one for a gift - I can't imagine anyone who enjoys design or just thinking about living that wouldn't be delighted by this book.