We’re In An Era Of ‘Psychotic Sameness’

Stefan Sagmeister at Alt Design Summit 2013 photographed by Justin Hackworth
SHARE
THIS



Senior art director for content marketing agency Edge, Chris Stewart, recently headed to the Vivid Ideas Game Changers series held in Sydney, where he was bamboozled by what he learnt. Check out his opinion piece below.

When Stephan Sagmeister introduced us to the notion of ‘Psychotic Sameness’ my two-beer haze lifted. He had my attention. Amidst all the grandiose statements the phrase ‘Psychotic Sameness’ stood out.

What is it? It defines what he finds most abhorrent in the design world. It’s his refusal to do what people expect. It encompasses precedents set by agencies, clients and even governments, and clarifies that they mean little to him – it’s not that he is constantly looking for something new, more so something that makes sense. Just good old common sense.

He further articulated his point when describing the train stations in Moscow. Most train stations are depressing, bland places – as that’s how designers and architects have been conditioned to construct them. The ‘same same’ drab design means passengers must rely on bland signage alone to know which station they’re at. Not so in the former Soviet Union.

The Russians have defied convention to avoid a mundane experience across their capital city’s stations. Instead they’ve opted to protect each station’s original appearance and legacy – noting that each one can offer a distinctively different visual and physical experience. “The Moscow train network is the only one in the world whereby tourists actually consider each station as an attraction as opposed to merely a way to get to one.”

I didn’t agree with everything Sir Sagmeister shared (Exhibitions utilising excrement should be considered art…WTF?) However I do relate to his ideals around sameness being the real threat.

Sagmeister repeatedly states that even he has to constantly restrain from falling into the stream of status quo. The antidote he shared was divergent thinking, constantly placing himself in fresh environments completely removed from ones he knows. Sagmeister religiously shuts down his New York Studio once every seven years for one year as a form of sabbatical. By his own account “The first [shutdown] was a fucking disaster” but he now works to a high school styled timetable, with each session lasting no longer than an hour.

Sagmeister went on to show work he had created over his career, and how many of these projects were directly influenced by the unrelated experiences he explored during his time out.

The notion of ‘Psychotic Sameness’ has haunted creatives in the communications game for years. The idea that “because it has been done before it’s the only way” continues to prevail. Why is it that brands and agencies feel a level of safety in being able to select the safe option? Sure, there are financial considerations when it comes to taking a risk or being innovative, but it’s the brands that think like Moscow’s Rail Council that will be remembered – that’s where people want to get off, instead of blindly flying by.

Now is an exciting time to be in this industry for this exact reason. Advertising is bending to allow us to think more laterally, to execute ideas spawning from industrial design, rather than purely graphical.  It is now people who are effectively steering the way in which brands act. We are watching companies becoming more transparent and effectively develop work based on ‘common sense’. But common sense is a confronting ideal for a brand. It can make them feel vulnerable, but it will be exciting to watch those who truly embrace it, and subsequently the trust they receive from their consumers.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Case Study: How Content Helped Tribal Marketing Come To Life Amongst Rev-Heads.
  • Opinion

Case Study: How Content Helped Tribal Marketing Come To Life Amongst Rev-Heads.

In this guest post, CEO of content marketing agency Edge, Fergus Stoddart (pictured below), says brands would do well to play on their customer’s loyal tribalism… Normally over Christmas, any downtime is spent asleep on the sofa, mildly lubricated with a belly full. This year, with the Ashes in the background, I managed to stay awake […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Red Bull Holden Racing Team Unveils 2018 Cars On Sydney Harbour
  • Marketing

Red Bull Holden Racing Team Unveils 2018 Cars On Sydney Harbour

Red Bull Holden Racing team took the covers off its 2018 Holden Commodore Supercar today. Floating on a barge in Farm Cove, the harbour provided a stunning backdrop for the reveal. Teammates Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen have won the past two championships for the squad. Whincup, now the greatest of all time with seven Supercar’s titles, […]

Victorian Government Launches VR Bushfire Experience Via The Fuel Agency
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Technology

Victorian Government Launches VR Bushfire Experience Via The Fuel Agency

As part of its summer fire campaign, the Victorian government has launched a virtual reality (VR) bushfire experience and content series via The Fuel Agency. The VR experience places the user in the midst of a large bushfire, and is designed to encourage people to leave early on high-risk days before it’s too late. The […]

Local Ad Tech Company VeNA Partners With RugbyPass
  • Advertising
  • Media
  • Technology

Local Ad Tech Company VeNA Partners With RugbyPass

ad tech company VeNA has signed an exclusive reseller partnership covering Australia and New Zealand with digital rugby network RugbyPass. Across Asia and parts of Europe, RugbyPass is the exclusive digital rights holder and over-the-top broadcaster for live rugby, including the Super Rugby, the Rugby Championship and autumn internationals, the Six Nations, the Aviva Premiership, […]

SpotX Appoints Gavin Buxton As Asia MD
  • Advertising

SpotX Appoints Gavin Buxton As Asia MD

Video advertising platform SpotX has announced it has appointed Gavin Buxton as managing director of Asia to lead the company’s expansion in the region. Buxton has over 17 years’ global experience in the digital advertising space, having worked in leadership roles at tech and publishing companies, including Microsoft, Turner Broadcasting, and LinkedIn, with the last […]

Big Mobile Doubles Down On Ad Tech & Rebrands
  • Advertising
  • Technology

Big Mobile Doubles Down On Ad Tech & Rebrands

B&T Awards 2017 finalist Big Mobile has unveiled a fresh look to reflect its new ad tech credentials. The company successfully pivoted its business from ad network to mobile ad tech vendor when it announced a joint venture (JV) with Widespace in October last year. As a result of the business changes, Big Mobile wanted […]

March One Appoints New Senior Account Manager
  • Advertising

March One Appoints New Senior Account Manager

Independent ad agency March One has appointed a fresh face to the team, with Melanie Tozer to reinforce its mission to put humans first as a senior account manager. Tozer (pictured above), an up-and-coming talent from New Zealand, will align her extensive experience in FMCG marketing with March One, having worked on accounts for Bunnings […]