June 22 – August 7, 2016
Gallery 360, Northeastern University, Boston
The dissemination and configuration of information is more important than ever with the internet, mobile gadgets and social media as the default means of communication, commerce and research. Data organization and accessibility has its roots in the work of graphic designer, Ladislav Sutnar (1897-1976). From 1941–60, Sutnar, who had settled in New York City in 1939 after migrating from Czechoslovakia, served as the art director for F.W. Dodge Corporation’s Sweet’s Catalog Service, producers of a wide range of industrial catalogs. Sweet’s catalogs brought together into one source plumbing, electrical, and building supplies which were marketed to the architecture and engineering trades. Along with his team of researchers, writers and designers (including Director of Research Knud Lönberg-Holm), Sutnar transformed the complex language of product information into clear, concise, and easy to use visual communication.
This exhibition which originated at Fordham University (NYC, 2015) brings together for the first time in Boston a rare opportunity to see more than 50 Sweet’s industrial product catalogs along with other published work by Sutnar relating to information design. The utilitarian and economical designs show how careful analysis and problem solving can result in new standards of form and function. Sutnar said, “The designer must think first, work later” and this is evident in his pioneering work, as relevant today as it was more than 70 years ago.