Putting on the Dog

By (TK) Published on .

New York design gadfly Stefan Sagmeister is still technically on sabbatical until October (see Creativity, May 2000), but in the meantime there's a new book out on his work, designed by Sagmeister Inc. and billed on the title page as "Another self-indulgent design monograph (practically everything we have ever designed, including the bad stuff)."

Called Sagmeister: Made You Look, written by Peter Hall and published by Booth-Clibborn, the hip, handsome trade paperback indeed has it all - from the Lou Reed, David Byrne, and Rolling Stones work to front and back covers with that red/green slipcased optical trickery that's a Sagmeister trademark (seen here). But why something as conventional as a retrospective book, and why now? Besides the readily admitted ego factor, "In the last couple of years many designers published experimental books," he notes. "I felt there was room for a classic show-and-tell book, designs done for actual clients with all the stories behind them."

So how's the Year With No Clients going? "It's filled with happy experiments," he says. The book, like the sabbatical, marks a turning point; "It seemed like a good time to look back, see all the stuff we've done, get it out of our system and move on. I've been trying to come up with a slew of seed concepts, which I hope to utilize for projects in collaboration with clients later on," he adds.

The angry/happy German shepherd on the cover is obliquely credited inside to Norman Rockwell, who's quoted to the effect, "If your image does not work, put a dog in it. If it still doesn't work, put a bandage on the dog. " Is there any hidden meaning here? "No, that's it," Sagmeister insists. "Our work can use all the help from the dog that it can get." But no bandage is required.

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