“Thinking life will be better in the future is stupid, I have to live now”. So Stefan tells us, despite the fact I think he’s right I couldn’t ever tell you how to categorise this book. In fact the maxims for living Stefan Sagmeister offers all seem to make sense, if not at first the story behind each may just change your mind.
Stefan Sagmeister is an Austrian Born typographer and graphic designer, operating from New York who often works on albums including those by David Byrne, The Rolling Stones and Lou Reed. His book, despite being well designed and unconventional in its appearance, is thoroughly accessible, as it’s essence lies in tested methods to improve his life. I would defy any reader not to identify with at least a few of them. As well as “Thinking life will be better in the future is stupid, I have to live now” he offers; “Material luxuries are best enjoyed in small doses” and “Assuming is Stifling”. But to give them all away would ruin the joy of this book, as its also about the viewer finding out how these maxims are revealed that is part of “Things…” appeal.
It’s close to an artists book in its constriction. Each maxim is singly bound and illustrated with a combination of photography / typography which is applied as if their marriage was always this harmonious. The ‘stories’ have no hierarchy no order as if to say that ‘none of these are more important than any other’. Gather them up and they all fit inside a box with a filigree / die cut Sagmeister face, changing the order they’re stored changes the cover of your ‘book’. His typography is in no way limited to a traditional electronic font database. In this book alone he uses tape, frankfurters and salt amongst many other things to convey his observations. These are revealed in this combination of text and photo word-by-word, page-by-page though each booklet.
Each section has a story which highlights his thinking for these life rules, these drive his reasoning home; they are entertaining, illuminating, funny and sometimes a little difficult. Look out particularly about the lecture from Quentin Crisp and an experience in an AA meeting.
I won’t put many images up from this book, as I think it has to be experienced. If you’re desperate to understand how it works he has asked the public to submit their own illutsrations of what they have learned, some of them are excellent – and some not so much. Judge for yourself here.
As stated this is a unique beautifully put together book. I really enjoyed it, in fact I bought it over two years ago. But I’m going back to it today just to make sure I haven’t missed anything.
BOOK REVIEW : Image credited Stefan Sagmeister / Things I have Learned In My Life So far