Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles I run a design studio in New York. Every seven years, I close it for one year to pursue some little experiments, things that are always difficult to accomplish during the regular working year. In that year, we are not available for any of our clients. We are totally closed. And as you can imagine, it is a lovely and very energetic time. I originally had opened the studio in New York to combine my two loves, music and design. And we created videos and packaging for many musicians that you know, and for even more that you've never heard of. As I realized, just like with many many things in my life that I actually love, I adapt to it. And I get, over time, bored by them. And for sure, in our case, our work started to look the same. You see here a glass eye in a die cut of a book. Quite the similar idea, then, a perfume packaged in a book, in a die cut. So I decided to close it down for one year. Also is the knowledge that right now we spend about in the first 25 years of our lives learning, then there is another 40 years that's really reserved for working. And then tacked on at the end of it are about 15 years for retirement. And I thought it might be helpful to basically cut off five of those retirement years and intersperse them in between those working years. (Applause) That's clearly enjoyable for myself. But probably even more important is that the work that comes out of these years flows back into the company and into society at large, rather than just benefiting a grandchild or two. There is a fellow TEDster who spoke two years ago, Jonathan Haidt, who defined his work into three different levels. And they rang very true for me. I can see my work as a job. I do it for money. I likely already look forward to the weekend on Thursdays. And I probably will need a hobby as a leveling mechanism. In a career I'm definitely more engaged. But at the same time, there will be periods when I think is all that really hard work really worth my while? While in the third one, in the calling, very much likely I would do it also if I wouldn't be financially compensated for it. I am not a religious person myself, but I did look for nature. I had spent my first sabbatical in New York City. Looked for something different for the second one. Europe and the U.S. didn't really feel enticing because I knew them too well. So Asia it was. The most beautiful landscapes I had seen in Asia were Sri Lanka and Bali. Sri Lanka still had the civil war going on, so Bali it was. It's a wonderful, very craft-oriented society. I arrived there in September 2008, and pretty much started to work right away. There is wonderful inspiration coming from the area itself. However the first thing that I needed was mosquito repellent typography because they were definitely around heavily. And then I needed some sort of way to be able to get back to all the wild dogs that surround my house, and attacked me during my morning walks. So we created this series of 99 portraits on tee shirts. Every single dog on one tee shirt. As a little retaliation with a just ever so slightly menacing message (Laughter) on the back of the shirt. (Laughter) Just before I left New York I decided I could actually renovate my studio. And then just leave it all to them. And I don't have to do anything. So I looked for furniture. And it turned out that all the furniture that I really liked, I couldn't afford. And all the stuff I could afford, I didn't like. So one of the things that we pursued in Bali was pieces of furniture. This one, of course, still works with the wild dogs. It's not quite finished yet. And I think by the time this lamp came about, (Laughter) I had finally made peace with those dogs. (Laughter) Then there is a coffee table. I also did a coffee table. It's called Be Here Now. It includes 330 compasses. And we had custom espresso cups made that hide a magnet inside, and make those compasses go crazy, always centering on them. Then this is a fairly talkative, verbose kind of chair. I also started meditating for the first time in my life in Bali. And at the same time, I'm extremely aware how boring it is to hear about other people's happinesses. So I will not really go too far into it. Many of you will know this TEDster, Danny Gilbert, whose book, actually, I got it through the TED book club. I think it took me four years to finally read it, while on sabbatical. And I was pleased to see that he actually wrote the book while he was on sabbatical. And I'll show you a couple of people that did well by pursuing sabbaticals. This is Ferran Adria. Many people think he is right now the best chef in the world with his restaurant north of Barcelona, El Bulli. His restaurant is open seven months every year. He closes it down for five months to experiment with a full kitchen staff. His latest numbers are fairly impressive. He can seat, throughout the year, he can seat 8,000 people. And he has 2.2 million requests for reservations. If I look at my cycle, seven years, one year sabbatical, it's 12.5 percent of my time. And if I look at companies that are actually more successful than mine, 3M since the 1930s is giving all their engineers 15 percent to pursue whatever they want. There is some good successes. Scotch tape came out of this program, as well as Art Fry developed sticky notes from during his personal time for 3M. Google, of course, very famously gives 20 percent for their software engineers to pursue their own personal projects. Anybody in here has actually ever conducted a sabbatical? That's about five percent of everybody. So I'm not sure if you saw your neighbor putting their hand up. Talk to them about if it was successful or not. I've found that finding out about what I'm going to like in the future, my very best way is talk to people who have actually done it much better than myself envisioning it. When I had the idea of doing one, the process was I made the decision and I put it into my daily planner book. And then I told as many, many people as I possibly could about it so that there was no way that I could chicken out later on. (Laughter) In the beginning, on the first sabbatical, it was rather disastrous. I had thought that I should do this without any plan, that this vacuum of time somehow would be wonderful and enticing for idea generation. It was not. I just, without a plan, I just reacted to little requests, not work requests, those I all said no to, but other little requests. Sending mail to Japanese design magazines and things like that. So I became my own intern. (Laughter) And I very quickly made a list of the things I was interested in, put them in a hierarchy, divided them into chunks of time and then made a plan, very much like in grade school. What does it say here? Monday, 8 to 9: story writing; 9 to 10: future thinking.