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Book, Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far

This is a Book. It was designed by Stefan Sagmeister and graphic design by Sagmeister Inc. and the design director was Stefan Sagmeister and made for Sagmeister Inc.. It is dated 2008 and we acquired it in 2011. Its medium is digitally color printed and die-cut cardboard cover with 15 digitally color printed booklets. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

In his effort to make graphic design more human and personal in response to the “cold” modernist design of some colleagues, Stefan Sagmeister frequently uses himself as design inspiration. This was perhaps mostly famously executed in the 1999 AIGA poster advertising his lecture in Detroit, for which he carved the poster’s text into his own skin. His self-promotional book, Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far, features his face on the cover and was inspired by a list of maxims in his personal diary with the same title. The book is comprised of 15 unbound brochures housed in a box, each documenting one of his personal truths and each illustrated with interactive installations from all over the world. The interactive nature of the installations is translated to the book format through the reader’s ability to insert the individual booklets into the box to change the appearance of Sagmeister’s face—from sinister to appealing. The maxims include “Assuming is stifling,” “Everybody thinks they are right," “Worrying solves nothing,” “Trying to look good limits my life,” “Keeping a diary supports personal development,” and “Over time I get used to everything and start taking It for granted.”
Sagmeister was born in Austria and studied graphic design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and at the Pratt Institute in New York. After short apprenticeships with Leo Burnett’s Hong Kong Design Group and at M & Co., he opened his own firm in New York in 1993, Sagmeister Inc., which has since produced graphics, branding, and packaging for a variety of clients including Levi Strauss & Co., the Guggenheim Museum, and Time Warner Inc. Sagmeister was appointed to the Frank Stanton Chair at the Cooper Union School of Art and teaches in the graduate department of the School of Visual Arts, both in New York City. He has received almost every significant international design award, including the 2005 National Design Award in the field of Communications Design and two Grammys—one that same year for his packaging for the Talking Heads box set, Once in a Lifetime, and a second in 2010 for his packaging for the David Byrne and Brian Eno collaboration, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.
Sagmeister’s graphic production is original and challenges the limits of his profession. This publication, part of a larger group of objects by Sagmeister proposed for acquisition, will augment the museum’s representation of work by this celebrated graphic designer.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Life Lessons.

This object was donated by Stefan Sagmeister. It is credited Gift of Stefan Sagmeister.

Our curators have highlighted 9 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

Its dimensions are

24.4 x 17.5 x 2.7 cm (9 5/8 x 6 7/8 x 1 1/16 in.)

Cite this object as

Book, Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far; Designed by Stefan Sagmeister (Austrian, b. 1962); Graphic design by Sagmeister Inc. (United States); USA; digitally color printed and die-cut cardboard cover with 15 digitally color printed booklets; 24.4 x 17.5 x 2.7 cm (9 5/8 x 6 7/8 x 1 1/16 in.); Gift of Stefan Sagmeister; 2011-34-6

We have 1 video that features Book, Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far.

Collections in Motion: Sagmeister's Things I Have Learned (Complete Book)

A front-to-back flip-through of each spread of Stefan Sagmeister's unique book. You can also see all variations of the die-cut cover.

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibitions The Virtue in Vice and Making Design.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18794275/ |title=Book, Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=5 June 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>