When the Kunsthaus Bregenz sent us a copy of the magazine they commissioned to celebrate their 10th anniversary, we knew we had something special on our hands. Simple, yet thought provoking, it was no surprise that Sagmeister was the mastermind behind it.
How did the collaboration with Kunsthaus Bregenz come about?
I grew up in Bregenz and have been a frequent visitor and full-time admirer of the Kunsthaus and its program over the last ten years. We designed billboards for them in the past, later an exhibition about them in NYC, and have kept in touch ever since.
What was the idea behind the design of the magazine?
The local paper "Vorarlberger Nachrichten" is an institution in its own right with a record distribution among the citizens of Vorarlberg, Austria's westernmost state. We tried to create another layer of meaning on top of this newspaper in the same way the KUB is generating another point of view for the area. The fact that a reader will come away with blackened fingers by reading it is a little inside joke about Vorarlberg's ruling conservative party (who's party color is black).
Is the design printed on real newspaper?
It is printed on real newspaper, printed by the Vorarlberger Nachrichten. This amount of large black coverage with reversed out small typography is technically rather sophisticated and presented a real challenge to the local printers. But having grown up there, I knew how much pride there still is in the crafts (not just printing, but also brick-laying and bread-baking), and counted on them doing a fantastic job. They did.
How does this design fit in with your style as a whole?
Considering that we don't really have a house style, it fits in splendidly.
How do you think the KUB has changed the city?
I'd love to answer by showing-off: I had given a design lecture at the Kunsthaus last year and 800 people (!) showed up. Considering this was in the dead of winter (no tourists about) and Bregenz has about 25,000 inhabitants, I would say this is nothing short of astonishing. KUB has completely altered the cultural landscape.
What is your design philosophy?
In general, I am still mostly concerned with design that has the ability to touch the viewers’ heart. We see so much professionally done and well-executed graphic design around us, beautifully illustrated and masterfully photographed. Nevertheless, almost all of it leaves me (and I suspect many other viewers) cold. There is just so much fluff: well-produced, tongue-in-cheek, pretty, fluff. Nothing that moves you, nothing to think about. Some is informing, but still all fluff.
Our goal for the future will be to touch somebody's heart with design.
What do you think about before embarking on a project?
Every project is so different; it would be impossible to say what I think before I embark on it. I also would be bored to tears if I'd know in advance.
What is your favourite type of design project to work on? Collaboration, album artwork, poster...?
A good project (with a proper deadline and budget,) for a good client (kind and smart people) and a good product/program (that is worthwhile to do).
How has your style evolved during your career?
I went from trying hard to have no style, to allowing myself to have one glimpsing through here and there.
What is the hardest thing you have ever worked on?
The Aerosmith CD cover. Too awful, heartbreaking and stupid to get into detail here.
(Upon requesting to see the cover in question, Sagmeister Inc. said, “We agreed that it would never see the light of day.”)
What design-related event/launch are you most excited to see this year?
I would be very surprised if anything even remotely as good as the iPhone would come along during the rest of the year.
What are you working on at the moment?
On a guide on visual communication for Scientists, the Casa Da Musica (the music center built by Rem Koolhaas) visual identity in Porto, and our own book: Things I Have Learned in my Life so far (to be published by Abrams in February 2008). We work on about ten projects at a time.
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