Ten years ago, esteemed graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister opined in a TED Talk about how every seven years, he takes a yearlong sabbatical from his work to focus more on personal projects. Today, he’s announcing that he is stepping away from commercial work—for good.
“I do believe it is important that people who truly care about design are creating commercial work, as commercial design influences the look and feel of our world more than most other design categories,” Sagmeister tells Fast Company via email. “At the same time I feel I have done my fair share of it.”
His design agency, Sagmeister & Walsh, will split in two. Sagmeister plans to continue working on exhibitions—such as an art project that explores the history of beauty—with his partner of seven years, Jessica Walsh. But going forward, Walsh will oversee all the studio’s commercial work and current employees under a new agency name, &Walsh.
Sagmeister, who became famous for his typographic wit—as well as his willingness to turn himself into a design project, penchant for nude publicity photos, and, more recently, taste for bad jokes—says he will continue to work, but only on self-generated design projects. In the past, he and Walsh have worked with clients ranging from Meetup to the Jewish Museum in New York to the New York Times.
Walsh also currently runs a nonprofit called Ladies, Wine, & Design, which aims to help women and nonbinary people within the design field find mentorship—something she aims to inject into &Walsh. For Sagmeister, the move made sense because Walsh was already running the studio’s commercial side. “We will place all of our commercial work on Jessica’s capable shoulders,” he says. “She has been leading these projects for some time, and it makes sense to make it more official. . . . We’ve had a lovely run so far.”