Notes on a Sabbatical

Since I discovered graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister’s work as a design student over 10 years ago, I was drawn to his practice of taking year-long sabbaticals every seven years, while being the head of his own company. I recently came upon an interview he did with Time Sensitive where he looked back and reflected on the three sabbaticals so far in his career. If you have an hour, I recommend giving it a listen! Sagmeister said: “Over time, I get used to everything and take it for granted.” He saw how, in himself and in others, a calling could become a job and found that the sabbatical was the best way to remedy it. I really enjoyed hearing how each of his sabbaticals differed as well as evolved. I was particularly interested in two of his strategies:

  1. He makes detailed daily plans for his sabbatical days.
  2. Before he went to Bali, he reviewed a list that he had filled throughout the years of things he was interested in exploring. He edited it down to what he was still excited about and figured out how much time he wanted to commit to exploring each topic.

The last two years, in the age of Covid, gave me precious time to focus on my new mantra of “more quality, less quantity”. I had the chance to rethink what sustainability means for my brand, finetune fits and expand sizing, revive and improve on popular styles from past collections, create my first book with a good friend, study marketing, and even dab my toes into the theater world  and other creative projects with amazing clients

My desire to travel, something that has always been vital to me as an artist and designer, was halted, but not diminished. That’s why I’m feeling extremely fortunate and excited to be taking some time this year on both the European and Asian continents (Covid-permitting). This means that between March-June and August-October, we will be unable to fulfill orders, so while you are welcome to browse, orders will be temporarily suspended. We will be fulfilling orders between June and July 2022. 

Curious about my creative pilgrimages? Check in in whichever way you like best: on the blog by filtering with the tag #travel, sign up for our newsletter, or follow on Instagram! I look forward to writing more, and would love to hear your thoughts as well. Please feel free to drop me a message at

I leave you here with this photo from back in 2014 when I was on a design pilgrimage in South Africa. This photo was taken by local photographer Chris Saunders when we visited a warehouse selling upholstery fabric in Johannesburg.

Portrait of Jenny Lai standing in upholstery fabric shop photo by Chris Saunders

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