Sagmeister on beauty

After his investigations into happiness, Stefan Sagmeister’s new obsession is beauty, on which subject his studio is creating a major exhibition (see statement below). CR’s Patrick Burgoyne interviewed Sagmeister on the topic following his talk

“Throughout most of the 20th and the 21st century beauty has gotten a bad reputation: Many respectable designers claim not be interested in it, the contemporary art world has almost completely abandoned it and one can leaf through stacks of architecture books without seeing the term mentioned once. Sagmeister&Walsh will put a large, engaging exhibition together demonstrating through a wide variety of media why this is so utterly stupid and what we can do to reverse it. The goal is to prove to the visitor that beauty is no mere surface strategy but a central part of what it means to be human.”

Patrick Burgoyne: Can you explain when your interest in beauty began and what prompted you to investigate it as a theme?

Stefan Sagmeister: From a studio level, we came to beauty through function. We discovered that whenever we took form seriously, it just seemed to work much better – the goal of the client was achieved and the part that was formal played a big role in that. Then I just started to investigate further. A few years ago I did a short talk about it in India that was sloppy and didn’t get much traction at all. Then I resurrected it once our studio projects began to seem to prove the idea.

One project that I find interesting was for a cloud computing company that makes very sophisticated software to put large bulks of data onto the cloud. Their customer is normally a Chief Technology Officer and, in that space, if you go to a trade show where CTOs mingle it’s very visually unsophisticated, everything’s about security locks and big type with metal bars in front of it.