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Shay Ben Efraim

Sagmeister & Walsh: A Retrospective

What does an emotion look like? How is happiness shaped? Can we touch a person's heart through design?

June 06, 2018 – October 20, 2018


In an age in which every moment brings with it a new flood of visual images that circulate at a dizzying pace, it is worth pausing momentarily to reflect on the creation of images and the transmission of messages. Studies show that we need only 39 milliseconds in order to form an opinion. Companies pour millions into new products, and politicians invest much time and money in their campaigns – yet the fate of these endeavors is decreed in less than a second.

Many of us feel that we live in a saturated world that is constantly replicating itself, and that we have already seen everything. How, then, are new images created? Do they merely obey market forces, or can they carry subversive messages? And what is the power of the gaze? Is the eye, attacked as it is by so many images, capable of choosing among them or even resisting them?

Photo: Shay Ben Efraim

The study of visual communication is concerned with ways of observing and viewing the world, and with how visual metaphors and images anchored in cultural knowledge contribute to both the construction and the interpretation of reality. The gaze interpreting the image is never innocent, since it encompasses an entire worldview.

Photo: Shay Ben Efraim

The Sagmeister & Walsh studio, an international trendsetter in the field of visual communication, specializes in the transmission of information, messages, emotions and ideas by means of visual tools.
Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh’s work is characterized by bold, courageous and subversive design choices that are emotional and human, and their use of various media and means of expression challenges conventions and ruptures boundaries. These two designers don several hats – those of graphic designers, experimental typographers, and performance artists – in order to introduce greater flexibility into visual communication, transform popular conceptions of design, challenge the status quo, and explore the role of the designer in society.

Using a range of techniques, expressive tools and unconventional materials, and taking various types of risks, Sagmeister & Walsh breathe new life into The medium is the message” (1967). ״ Marshall McLuhan’s well-known phrase Their human, subjective approach, which involves a playful engagement with the viewers’ senses, gives rise to unforgettable images, while encouraging us to think about the images we consume and produce.

Detail from Beauty = Human, 2018, Photo: Shay Ben Efraim

This central exhibition is shown in conjunction with two additional exhibitions that explore the status of images. The exhibition Uncanny, which is on display in the Design Laboratory, features works that blur the line between the real and the imagined. Imbued with an uncanny quality, these works provoke a sense of discomfort, while raising questions concerning the possibility of creating something new out of familiar elements.

The exhibition Wheat Is Wheat Is Wheat, which is on display in the Round Corridor, features works by the designer Peddy Mergui. This exhibition bursts the bubble of conspicuous consumption exploring whether basic products produced by luxury brands, such as flour branded by Prada or rice branded by Louis Vuitton, are truly worth more.