Stefan Sagmeister’s Top 5

Create Magazine asked Stefan Sagmeister to pick his favorites in five categories of design: logo, branding system, wayfinding/signage/environmental, poster, and packaging. Below, he shares his choices and explains why they speak to him. (Are they among your favorites, too? Share your thoughts in the Comments section at the bottom of the page.)

LOGO: Kewpie, Japanese Mayo
Designer: Unknown

That winged baby just works. And the mayo is good.

Designer: Wolff Olins

A fitting solution for a multi-branded multinational. 

Designer: Paul Mijksenaar

The designer worked so very hard, figuring out a bright color for everything that a traveler might be anxious about (like finding the gate), a dark color for everything the traveler wont be anxious about (like picking up the luggage), knowing after how many meters the traveler needs to be reassured that she is on the right track by repeating a sign, and putting rules in place guaranteeing all sight lines are kept free from advertising, The results are wonderful: Even though the Dutch airport has expanded many times throughout the years and is a hotchpotch of buildings and architectural styles, you never get lost at Schiphol. 

POSTER: “Made in Japan, Tadanori Yokoo, Having Reached a Climax at the Age of 29, I Was Dead”
Designer: Tadanori Yokoo

Mr. Yokoo designed this poster in 1965 at  the age of 29 and started a design language he’s still talking in today. Even though I usually prefer the changers over the stay-the-samers, in his case I am so thankful he stuck with it and explored this narrow area to fullest. 

PACKAGING: Sufjan Stevens’ BQE
Designer: Sufjan Stevens

Of the nearly 400 vinyl records I own, this one is my favorite. The typographic direction throughout the entire project manages — while taking inspiration from graffiti and street art — to appear completely fresh and likely could have only be created by a musician: someone not complacent and infected by the rules of the design world. As if this is not enough, he also included a fat comic about Robert Moses, the builder of the BQE (Brooklyn Queens Express Way). And Stevens also wrote the intelligent liner notes. It can be somewhat frustrating to see how talented and smart some people really are.

Are any of Stefan’s top five among your favorites? Share your thoughts on his choices (and yours) in the Comments section.


Stefan Sagmeister formed the New York-based Sagmeister Inc. in 1993 (renamed Sagmeister & Walsh when Jessica Walsh became a partner in 2012) and has designed for clients as diverse as the Rolling Stones, HBO, and the Guggenheim Museum. Having been nominated eight times he finally won two Grammies for the Talking Heads and Brian Eno & David Byrne package designs. He also has earned practically every important international design award.

He teaches in the graduate department of the School of Visual Art in New York and lectures extensively on all continents. A native of Austria, he received his MFA from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and, as a Fulbright Scholar, a master’s degree from Pratt Institute in New York.

August 15, 2016

Large Schiphol photo courtesy of Mijksenaar. Four smaller photos of Schiphol by Dale Simonson and used according to Creative Commons license guidelines.