October 11, 2006

Czech Out These Insane 'Factory Town' Blocks By Ladislav Sutnar

Ladislav Sutnar was a Czech product/graphic/information designer who fled to the US at the outset of World War II. He spent the first years in the US trying to find a manufacturer for some of the toys he had been designing along the way, including this c. 1922-26 block set known as "Factory Town," which, even though he renamed it "Build The Town" for the US, never made it into production. [He did leave at least one important legacy, though, as he foresaw designers' imperative to help manage the modern world's flood of information: the parentheses around area codes. His idea.]

For Sutnar toys should be designed to "optimistically reflect the issues and tempo of modern life as well as inspire the child to active play. This novel concept of toys reflecting the principles of modern education science, Abstractionist art theory and low-cost industrial manufacture found an ideal expression in Sutnar's prototypes."

Anyway, the Cooper Hewitt, MoMA, and the Getty all have prototypes of "Factory Town," and now you can, too. A complete set, made by Sutnar in 1942, comes straight from the Sutnar family to be auctioned on Oct. 12 [TOMORROW!] at Swann's in NYC and live on eBay. The estimate: $7,000-10,000. Considering that the drawings and notes for the project sold in 2001 for $13,000, I'm afraid those numbers aren't too unrealistic.

Swann's 2088042 Avant Garde, Czech Modernist Sutnar, ends 10/12 at 10:30 PDT
[ebay via vintageshark/DT reader Andy's guestblogging stint at the Walker Art Center]
Barely the tip of the Sutnar Iceberg [Sutnar.cz]
For the inspired woodworker, MoMA lists dimensions for each block [moma.org]


Off topic, but thinking of cool Czech wooden toys, my in-laws came back from a trip to Vienna and Bratslavia with some really sweet wooden puzzles from Karel Makovský – Dřevovýroba for the girls ...

They pulled in the low estimate, $7,000, plus premium.

[so about $8,500. How warped am I to think that sounds fairly reasonable? -ed.]

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