Ladislav Sutnar: Catalog Design Progress

catalog design progress

Catalog Design Progress: Advancing Standards in Visual Communication by K. Lonberg-Holm and Ladislav Sutnar – published by Sweet’s Catalog Service ©1950

Really excited to present today’s book. It’s a classic by the highly underrated designer Ladislav Sutnar.

Ladislav Sutnar was born in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia on november 9, 1897. He was educated in Prague. In 1939 he traveled to New York as an exhibition designer for the Czech Pavilion at the World’s Fair. Due to the war he ended up staying in New York and was later hired by Sweet’s Catalog Service. It was here along with Sweet’s research director K Lonberg Holm that Sutnar would produce a body of work that would help to lay the foundation of information design as we know it today. One of the books to spawn from that partnership was Catalog Design Progress. The book chronicles the pair’s thoughts and experimentations with the layout and organization of information.

From the introduction:

“To many people, standards mean only uniformity and restriction, something negative and static. Opposed to this concept of the word is one which may be illustrated by a commonly used expression, like living standards. This may suggest variation, as among the living standards of different parts of the world, or progress, as from the time of the earliest American settlers to the present. In short, the word has potentials, for implying something dynamic, not static- something which is always changing, advancing.

This dynamic concept of standards has direct applications in the field of industrial product information. With the increasing importance of product information, the standards for its design become more important, requiring continual change and improvement. Technological advance accelerates this process. For example, in such a familiar field of advance as transportation, new standards were required to meet the complex information needs arising with the development of the automobile and airplane.

Thus with today’s industrial development and the concurrent higher standards of industry, corresponding advances must be made in the standards of industrial information itself. The need is not only for more factual information, but for better presentation, with the visual clarity and precision gained through new design techniques. Fundamentally, this means the development of design patterns capable of transmitting a flow of information.”

The book is broken into the following sections:

Emergence of new Flow patterns

Visual features-Typography, pictures and charts, covers.

Design Development

Structural features-Page organization, catalog organization, file organization

Function, flow and form

ladislav sutnar

catalog design progress

ladislav sutnar

catalog design progress

ladislav sutnar

catalog design progress

catalog design progress

ladislav sutnar

catalog design progress

ladislav sutnar

catalog design progress

ladislav sutnar

catalog design progress

ladislav sutnar

catalog design progress

ladislav sutnar

ladislav sutnar

Type set by Kurt H Volk and The Composing Room. Printed by Steidinger Press Inc. New York

You can pick up a copy at Amazon.

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Also worth checking: Ladislav Sutnar: Sweet’s Catalog Promo

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Another gorgeous book! Love the fact it’s all in 3 colour too, for some reason I think 2 or 3 colours have much more impact than full colour print.

Another great share.

ohh my god!!!!!

so nice to see him featured on this site. his website is amazing. i just love his work. thanks for posting this.

Oh my… that’s quite nice.

Anna Gilmour |

Off Our Bookshelves |

best. design book. ever.

spectacular!

I would love to have this book. Fantastic post.

Trevor Davis |

Off Our Bookshelves |

Nice post, and it’s good to see Ladislav Sutnar mentioned here. I would love to have this book. Actually, I would have loved to have this book while I was still in art school! The chapters sound interesting, as does the excerpt, and I really like the layout and the colors used in it; it’s very bright, bold and eye-catching, just like a book on design should be. Thanks for posting all of the photos, too. It’s a very nice looking book, and I like the parts about the word being used in a more dynamic way in product information.

Cool post! Interesting pictures.

great election of colours!

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