From the time we enter architecture school we are forced to learn how to sell – primarily our work but ultimately ourselves. Whether we like it or not what we offer becomes a package, encapsulating our architectural design and management ability together with an often instant impression of who and what we are – our values. Hopefully this package deal will appeal to a prospective client or employer or at the minimum will encourage them to take a chance. Regardless of the size of our ego the process is humbling, forcing us to lay ourselves bare.
I have no idea what was going through Stefan Sagmeister’s mind when he launched Sagmeister Inc. in 1993. The Austrian born, New York based designer introduced himself to the world with a full-frontal postcard that required visual redacting. Only he can say what Myers-Briggs type he is but I’m quite confident that it begins with an E. Nineteen years later the agency became Sagmeister & Walsh with the addition of new partner Jessica. Here it gets a bit awkward. To reprise or not to reprise? In the event their decision led to their website receiving up to 700 visitors a second. Once the audacity of their new promotional image has had a chance to sink in it becomes apparent, through their body language, that we are dealing with contrasting personalities – she an I.
The Sagmeister & Walsh workspace plays an integral part in the expression of their values. Arriving at their website and you are greeted by a fullscreen, (sometimes) live studio webcam.
The studio also features prominently in their press images. For creative types the aesthetic is immediately recognisable – keyworded white, clean, moulded-plastic-chair, mac etc – not nearly as adventurous as the work they produce – but for clients I’m sure it does the job. The press images are extraordinarily staged and, like much of today’s architecture and interior photography, devoid of people. I’m sure the messy creativity isn’t confined to sketchbooks. It would be great to see more than just the bird’s eye view.
— Originally published July 2013 —