October 12, 2006

Czech-Made: The World Of Shape, Ladislav Sutnar's Awesome Children's Book


You'd think it'd be enough that Czech designer Ladislav Sutnar launched the area code and helped ease civilization into the information age without having waves of data crash down upon our heads. You'd think it'd be enough that his book designs for Czech editions of Upton Sinclair are still among the freshest, most striking covers I've ever seen.

I'll be honest, before Andy sent these links along yesterday, I couldn't have told you a Sutnar from a Sudek. But to find so many beautiful, kid-related designs at once--only to discover that almost all of them went unproduced and unrealized in the designers' lifetime--it's almost heartbreaking.

As we wade through mountains of tacky plastic and electronic crap destined, unfortunately, for landfills, I have to wonder how much great design work--how much good design, even--has already been done and then promptly forgotten.

Anyway, here's just one more example of a gorgeous, fun-looking children's book that deserves to be remembered and shared far beyond the archive box at the Cooper Hewitt Museum where it sits right now, Sutnar's The World of Shape:

In about 1969, Ladislav Sutnar devised an instructive folding book conceived to help the parent teach the child to grasp and term shapes experienced in daily life. "We all live in an endless world of shapes. Everything around us is a shape. You are a shape. Your shadow is a shape too: Some shapes grow in nature. Others are made by man. Some shapes are simple. Others might be different [difficult?] to figure out. You enjoy some shapes looking at. You dislike the ugly shapes. Yes, every shape has a story to tell!" states the book as it opens. However, as Sutnar failed to find a publisher, the book never got beyond the stage of a mere dummy.
The Sutnar site has tiny images of the book's spreads, but that's it. Just enough to let you know what we're missing out on.

Sutnar.cz [sutnar.cz]
I uploaded the thumbnails of the book to the daddytypes photostream on flickr [flickr]

1 Comment

it's a real service you're providing by digging up these old designs and giving them some light. . . it's amazing you're doing it for free and not putting them all in a book. Which you should still do, by the way.

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