Forgotten design legend, back in action

Published:  May 11, 2015

Many of you won’t be familiar with the name Ladislav Sutnar — yet. Last week, the bibliophilic design website successfully Kickstarted a facsimile edition of Sutnar’s 1961 book, Design In Action, edited by Steven Heller and to be published by famed printer Lars Müller.



Born in Pilsen in 1897, Sutnar was a well-known and respected typographer and artist in Prague. Following the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, he fled to the United States, remaking himself as a graphic designer for Sweet’s Catalogue Services, and doing freelance advertising and branding projects part-time. He worked at Sweet’s until 1961 — the same year Design In Action was published. After this, he left the public eye, and faded into relative obscurity until his death in 1976.

Over half a century later, his work (which has been almost continually out of print) is being brought back to life via Kickstarter, where it has already passed its goal $70,000 within the first week. In its Kickstarter video, Müller explains some of the difficulties in reprinting this classic document.

“When [Designers & Books and Heller] approached me with this project, I thought you were totally insane. But looking at it, it’s just great, it’s one of the icons in the communication of graphic design. There’s a variation of papers, and several coloured prints. Even today, this is a challenge for a specialist in the field. I feel challenged as well. I think it would be great if we could just one day achieve a reprint, but a perfect reprint, of this iconic book.”



Kickstarter video Visual design in Action Reprint from Designers & Books on Vimeo.

Design In Action will be available for pre-order until through its Kickstarter until the 4th of June.

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