Sagmeister & Walsh: A card collection that speaks for itself

[Kim Rogala] Halftone Satisfaction is the newest collection for The Luxe Project by that launched earlier this week. And boy, has it created a buzz. Designed by the notoriously controversial team, Sagmeister & Walsh, this collection is shocking to some, yet not surprising to most. Hint: Four-letter words do appear.

Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh enjoy creating, and they enjoy taking risks to get reactions and make things happen. With Halftone Satisfaction they hope to raise awareness and money for New York’s Coalition for the Homeless. The charity will receive 100% of the net proceeds from the sales of the collection.

The name of the collection, Halftone Satisfaction, refers to the relationship between the front and back of the cards: The backs build from solid white, through black dots, to solid black, signifying the lightness or darkness of the message the other side holds.

There are seven sets of seven cards with seven messages that go from playful to brutal: The backs of the cards show their progression.

According to Sagmeister, the cards are designed to be handed to anyone you meet who delights or annoys you. I decided to test the cards on recent trip, but my first encounter completely surprised both me and the TSA agent who pulled me aside, said he had to check my bag, and then pulled out the small white box.

Yes, the top card in the box is the darkest of the messages, reading “F–k you. Eat S–t.” The look on the agent’s face was priceless, and when he saw the look on my face, we both laughed. I learned two things during that exchange: The cards communicate clearly, and the X-ray scanners can’t see through the Luxe boxes—so be prepared if you travel with them.

Sagmeister, who considers himself an optimist, thinks of the collection as an experiment in social interaction and a test of what kind of person you are and what kind of people you meet. Like the cards, the opinions of those who have seen them are purely black and white. But, whether it’s love or hate, people engage. The cards are printed on Luxe Business Cards, which are four layers of Mohawk Superfine, so the thickness of the card nicely carries the weight of the message.

I gave a box to one young designer who immediately handed cards out to the people in his office. He gave one to the the girl who sits across from him:

And one to the office braggart:

I haven’t handed all of the cards out, but frankly, this one comes to mind every time I spend an hour on the phone with a customer service representative who can’t seem to help me:

And, let’s face it, there are too many people in the world who justly deserve this one:

The next one stumped me. Who would you give this one to?

Many have said that they’d love to give the “FU” card, to people on the subway, or those who park badly. Others have said they would never give that card out. I admit, I enjoyed seeing the reactions of people who opened that box; see them look at that card, pause, look puzzled, laugh, then take the card out of the box to discover what was underneath. Maybe Sagmeister’s right—maybe my interactions with the cards do say something about me. Which cards would you give out? Who would you give them to? Why?

Halftone Satisfaction is available for purchase here. They retail for $34.99 and 100% of the net proceeds go to New York’s Coalition for the Homeless.

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Comments (2)

  1. Posted by sygyzy on 03.15.13 at 5:34 pm

    Really like this idea but I can’t see myself ever giving one of the mean/negative cards to someone, even someone I disliked. Wish they made a set of 50 with only positive cards. I am not some hippie tree hugger but just imagine giving a FU card to even your friend as a joke. Not funny.

  2. Posted by John Madere on 03.22.13 at 4:30 pm

    Hilarious TSA story. They deserve that card for scanning you through your clothing. Stefan, who is about 6′ 3″ is more likely to get away with handing out that [email protected]*k You card to deserving persons. I’ve always wanted to give out cards with the name and phone number of a good shrink.

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