Simón Sepúlveda has had a diverse design career. Originally from Santiago de Chile, he has worked for a boutique design studio, completed a masters in territory and landscape design, and recently moved to New York to work at Sagmeister & Walsh. Now working on a freelance basis, Simón’s projects focus on creative industries “with a strong social and political opinion,” he explains.
A personal project of Simón’s, New One in New York, encompasses the social impacts of design. During the designer’s first six months in New York he kept a design diary, “everything as a work process: experiences, people that I met, words that I learnt, foods that I tried and ideas that were emerging from this record”. Based on this, Simón is searching for more than 40 designers to collaborate, interpreting pieces from his diary – the first outcomes of which can be viewed on the site.
Below Simón talks us through the aims of the project, how he hopes it will develop, and his feelings towards being a non-native designer in the US.
What are the intentions for New One in New York? How did you develop the idea?
The project has different intentions. The most important are: the idea of relatable personal experiences with work and how that has influenced my creative process. It offers the chance to collaborate with different designers and try to experiment with techniques, materials and medias without fear, then develop, if possible, a personal seal as a designer. Finally to learn about my personal creative process and know more about other people’s processes, which is why I created the questionnaire Too long for a pee too short for a poop. Overall, I wanted to do a project that wasn’t client based that also generates differentiation with other designers of my age.
What did you learn from your project Too long for a pee, too short for a poop, for which you interviewed a stellar list of designers including Paula Scher, Stefan Sagmeister and Ricardo Villavicencio?
I’ve learnt that to have your own identity and voice in your work is important. To achieve this you have to validate your own process and be super respectful to your methods, time and ideas. It’s key to develop trust in what you’re doing and to work super hard popular responses form people I interviewed.
How do you hope people engage with New One in New York?
The more people that visit the website the better. I hope that people see the project as an imperfect, original and honest idea. I’m open to hear as many opinion and comments as possible and learn things from that. I’m aware that it’s a work in progress. I also hope this allows me to find new projects on more diverse areas of design.
What, for you, makes a good project?
This question is tough! I think that for me, a good movie is one that produces strong feelings, it can be any feeling. After I leave the theatre, it then remains constantly in my thoughts for many days after. For me a good project is kind of the same, it has to have a strong immediate impact, which reappears after time.
Your portfolio is diverse. Why do you cover so many creative disciplines? How do you work creatively?
I feel attracted to different disciplines and techniques and I like to explore that as much as possible. I’m more concerned about producing good work rather than becoming an expert in one technique and developing it for the rest of my life.
Creatively, I try to define the limits of a project. After those limits are clear I ask for complete freedom to develop my work. Usually, I work by myself on concepts of the project and then I make teams of work based on what the project needs. Now I’m trying to give a lot of time to the formal part of projects to develop more unique and strange shapes and forms.
What does it mean to be a designer in the US at the moment, particularly not being native? Does New One in New York relate to this?
I think being an immigrant in the US forces you to be politically active, to have an opinion and a point of view on the current political and social context. If you are conscious of the social movements, you must participate if you think it’s worth it. Design has a huge power for participation but it’s important not to design just for social networks or the design community. For example with the last presidential campaign the internet was crowded with Anti-Trump design pieces with super low impact.
I think during the process of New One in New York I felt more and more aware of my latino background, something that has never happened to me before. I felt more proud than ever and am now more aware of other social and political movements.
I think as designers, we have to try to be a pain in the ass for bad leaders.
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