Recently, Adobe approached Sagmeister & Walsh and asked the provocative New York-based design studio to interpret Adobe’s logo in an original, graphic way. A more traditional (read: boring) team might’ve gotten down to business and churned out yet another sleek, safe design. But the studio’s partners–Stefan Sagmeister, who has worked Lou Reed and the Rolling Stones, and Jessica Walsh, infamous for publicly chronicling her dating adventures–decided to turn Adobe’s challenge into a five-episode gameshow series, three of which you can now watch online.
“We always try to make the process of the work we are doing as enjoyable as possible, and we like when the creation process is part of the final piece,” Walsh tells Co.Design. “Through a series of conversations, we came to the idea to turn their logo challenge into a competition between us. We felt this solution satisfied Adobe’s brief and would also make for an extremely enjoyable day.”
Sagmeister & Walsh designed, edited, and produced the program, “Sagmeister vs. Walsh: Adobe Remix.” In it, the two designers go head to head, each trying to make Adobe logos without a single Pantone color, using a spinning wheel to select materials that would be better suited for making, say, baked goods or quilts. Spoiler alert: in the first two episodes, Sagmeister and Walsh get tied together with a rope, then blindfolded, smash both eggs and piñatas, and frantically assemble giant attempts at Adobe logos from feathers, yarn, and cake. The game’s design is a neon feast for the eyes, and parodies hokey old school game shows. “I grew up with ’80s and ’90s game shows like Legends of the Hidden Temple, Guts, and Double Dare, and these were definitely an inspiration to us,” Walsh says. The competition is judged by designers Stefan Bucher, Jessica Hische, Joshua Davis, and Noreen Morioka.
“My favorite thing about this gameshow is that it has absolutely no purpose,” Sagmeister tells Co.Design. “And that it reveals very little about our creative process. Or maybe a lot.”
They submitted the gameshow videos and photographs of the logo pieces created in each challenge–made from everything from cake to silly string–to Adobe as their response to the design brief. Their work now appears on Adobe’s “Logo Remix” Behance page, alongside other designers’ responses to the same brief. The “Remix” challenge is basically a publicity stunt on Adobe’s part, and Sagmeister & Walsh responded to that stunt, ingeniously, with a stunt of their own.
“We approach every challenge at our studio with a sense of play, experimentation, or humor,” Walsh tells Co.Design. “Even in our more serious client work, this mentality allows the mind to be more open to new and interesting ideas. I think the gameshow reveals that while we are passionate about our work and design, we try to enjoy ourselves and not take ourselves too seriously.”
The pair has a history of turning design into a kind of performance art, employing exhibitionism as skillfully as they set type. Twenty-one years ago, Sagmeister infamously debuted his design studio by sending a naked photograph of himself out to potential clients on a postcard. When then 25-year-old Jessica Walsh joined his team in 2012, they restaged the nudie pic together, with the subtitle “We will do anything for design.” Then, in 2013, the entire staff of the agency, from the CEO to the interns, stripped down for a group shot in the buff. So perhaps the only shocking thing about the fact that they staged a design challenge as a gameshow is that they did it with clothes on–matching pink sweatbands and flowery button-downs, to be exact. But there are two episodes left, so there’s still time.