Sagmeister adds Walsh

Stefan Sagmeister’s eponymous New York design studio has been renamed Sagmeister & Walsh with the addition of Jessica Walsh as a partner. A fact revealed in typical Sagmeister style with a naked portrait of the new team

Stefan Sagmeister’s eponymous New York design studio has been renamed Sagmeister & Walsh with the addition of Jessica Walsh as a partner. A fact revealed in typical Sagmeister style with a naked portrait of the new team

Sagmeister Inc announced today (May 31) that it will henceforth be known as Sagmeister & Walsh with multidisciplinary designer Jessica Walsh (who had already been working at the studio) becoming a partner in the firm. To note the change, the studio sent out an email with the following image (shown above is a still from a video of the shoot) and the line “We will do anything for design”.

UPDATE: Some thoughts on the perils of getting naked with Sagmeister



Sagmeister says “In the two and a half years she has been here Jessica has really shown she can do the entire thing – from ideas to execution to being responsible for the studio. [Making her a partner] just seemed the right thing to do. She’s only 24 but she is an exceptional person.”

“The hope is that both if us will be involved in everything with perhaps me more involved in the self-generated projects and Jessica more in client-based work,” Sagmeister says, although he insists that he has no plans to move away from client-based work entirely: “I have no desire to wander off and become an artist. I am very happy to be in the world of design,” he says. Sagmeister will oversee larger corporate projects in a creative director role with Walsh managing the studio.

The work of Sagmeister Inc has always had such a strong personal tone of voice, how will Walsh’s status as equal partner influence the work itself? “That is yet to be seen,” Sagmeister says. “Sometimes in the past two years the credit for work went to me because my name is on the studio but on things like EDP or Levi’s Jessica’s contribution was gigantic.”

For her part, Walsh says “I don’t think the work will change too much. Stefan has always been very open to ideas from anyone in the studio. It has never been all about him and his ego as it is in some design studios, all he is interested in is in what’s best for the client.”

The organisational change came about, Walsh says, as a result of a series of conversations between herself and Sagmeister about both his and her future plans. As Sagmeister says “I’m very aware that somebody who is young and ambitious normally can only stay at the studio for a couple of years because the studio is small and there is no way for them to move up.” Making Walsh partner was a way of allowing her to take on a more senior role.

So what will happen next time Sagmeister takes one of his famous sabbaticals? “We haven’t really discussed that,” Walsh says, laughing. “He was away for about three months last time and I ran the studio so I guess we will do something similar. Wherever he is, we always manage to keep in contact.”

But how to announce the news? When Sagmeister first opened his studio 19 years ago he sent out the above card  – the natural thing seemed to do an updated version. How did Sagmeister feel about the idea of them both being naked, after all, it’s one thing for a 50 year-old man to do it, quite another for a young woman to go naked in such a public way.

“I was sheepish about it,” Sagmeister says. “I suggested we could do it with her dressed really conservatively but she said why can’t I be naked?” Walsh confirms that having them both naked was her idea: “I said ‘why am I the conservative one?”

The shoot was, she has, a little nervewracking at first, as was waiting to see the reaction once the card was sent out. “I definitely was a little nervous today,” she says, “about what kind of comments we would get and what people would think me being naked implied.” So far she says, though, reaction has been largely positive. Even her mother, who was initially not very happy about the idea, “called to say she was happy for me. She thinks I’m in the art world and that we do weird things some times.”

Sagmeister says that when he made the original card, his girlfriend at the time told him he would lose the only client he had because of it. “Later I went to the client’s private offfice and saw the card pinned up on the wall with something like ‘the biggest risk of all is taking no risk’ written alongside it so I felt vindicated in doing it.”



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  • sid

    Great designers, followed them for ages, especially Jessica… getting completely buff though? …can’t complain, but can’t see why it was necessary?

  • jason

    Bit of a disillusioned statement isn’t it.
    Worst economic turmoil ever and hes promoting rockstyle shock and awe designers?

  • As much as I love Sagmeister, I have to agree with Sid here, not seeing the point in the photo. Maybe trying a bit too hard to be ‘shocking’? Each to their own, I suppose!

  • James

    This picture is really interesting. When you get passed the nudity, there are little curiosities in there. Why does Sagmeister have crossed arms in the first, and Walsh in the second? Why has he gone from completely nude to wearing socks? Going by their style, all of these details are intentional. I have to wonder what they mean?

  • Does anyone find it fundamentally awkward to get naked with your boss-turned-partner … in the office? I’m all for casual Fridays …

  • Paul

    LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME! Help us trend on Twitter! Pay attention to me!

  • Seems few notice he’s clearly referencing his original firm opening announcement

  • The longer I look at the photo, the more I wish Sagmeister had worn his socks as the Chili Peppers did; ‘socks on cocks’ style.

    Jessica…I’m not complaining! But as sid said above, not sure why it was necessary.

  • Sarah

    Why you gotta wear socks, man?

  • Thelmo

    Is always nice to see your boss’s penis!
    Thank you but no thank you.

  • Mark

    The announcement is a play off of Stefan’s announcement when he first opened the Sagmeister Inc where he did a naked before/after postcard. It’s in “Made You Look.” This is the first pic of it I found: page 63, I think.

  • Chris

    Perhaps ill-timed after last week’s Mad Men.

  • TM

    Is he wearing the emperors new clothes…

  • I think the shocked reactions says more about the prudishness of the audience than anything about Sagmeister. It’s the outrage that gets me. It’s just a penis…

    If two fine artists had a photo taken of themselves nude, it wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow (in fact, this happens all the time). Maybe designers just need to grow up a bit.

    I also think the comment “Worst economic turmoil ever and hes promoting rockstyle shock and awe designers?” validates the entire exercise. Anything that makes someone literally say “it’s a global recession, put your pants back on” has to be a good thing. Bravo.

  • Ben

    For goodness sake Sagmeister, grow up. He belongs in the fine art world, where he would probably be seen as very boring and average. Nice looking lady though.

  • doesn’t everyone else dress like this at work?

  • lee

    pants off Friday?

  • XS

    So, are they… you know… making hanky panky?

  • David

    I like it. Nice bodies too!

  • Norman Cooley

    Bottom line is who really cares…

  • Joe Baglow

    Jessica is buff

  • Milena

    The portrait made me read the whole article, so it must be interesting.

  • Im dont care about nudity and Im not offended I get the whole updated thing, I just dont really see the idea in either.

  • London

    [deleted by moderator]

  • Ashley Day

    Ice breakers should always be this way

  • Charlotte


  • Sex sells

  • Cfly

    Speaking from a purely rational, aesthetic point of view I believe this announcement works because Jessica Walsh is super smoking hot. I am glad that is what we can all focus on, but I think that as well as being hot she does some design work or something on the side?

  • Rich

    I always thought the original would have been better with a huge set of balls (I think I read sagmeisters thinking was that you need a big dick to go out on your own? correct me if i’m wrong) but then I guess the updated version of that would cause even more furore.

    like it or not, It’s going to stay in peoples heads.

  • I’d have made her partner too — And you know when you’re down to your socks, it’s time for business. That’s why they call them business socks.

  • Jake Freed

    I would have preferred a more carefree portrait… next time they should be playing ping pong or chess in the nude.

  • Masato

    I will file this under “Who gives a shit”.

  • Bill Clay

    She should have done something more to her style. Maybe or maybe not naked, but with body paint or something to differentiate herself. Instead it looks like she is mimicking him, and therefore the first reaction is possibly cynical.

  • M84

    After reading all the comments, i’m not gonna comment because all has been said, but i do have to ask: what about the OTHER designer in the studio (sorry forgot his name) that was present in lots of work with Sagmeister for a long time? What ever happened to him? Did he leave, was he not capable enough to do “the entire thing” like Jessica Walsh, did he not want to…?

  • jB

    I think M84 is talking about Matthias Ernstberger. ms. Walsh has very technically proficient work (no mean feat in itself and certainly worth salutation for) but it lacks soul and is usually devoid of a strong concept. Unfortunately since she has become such a crucial figure in his studio, I hate to say the studio has produced more pretty work than the kind of meaningful and thought provoking work it used to. In the time of Mr. Ernstberger.

  • Frankie

    “can’t see why it was necessary.” If we only did what was necessary art would never happen. Art (and even GD) is always gratuitous. Like nipples on dudes, outy belly buttons and 4skins this press release is in excess. But now my day is better because I saw a dick. Oh, and the details etc.

  • Amazing achievement for someone so young. Presumably thoroughly deserved, if it’d just happened to me i’d probably be so excited i’d want to take my clothes off too.

  • Ice Breaker yes, but tasteful no. Maybe it might filter clients for their new agency to be as edgy or shocking and provocative as they are. Overall he did his job as a basic advertisement for his agency, but not everyone will appreciate it, and I think they knew that quite well ahead of time.

  • Robb

    Zzzzz a boring has been trying to get attention.
    Move on people, nothing to see here.

  • Meh… it’s ‘Two Virgins’ Mark II.

    I can’t help but feel that Walsh’s obvious attractiveness will detract from whatever meaning they are attempting to attribute to the shot. Still it takes balls so well done to both of them.

  • TJ

    Can someone say “jumping the shark”?