Past Exhibitions > Ladislav Sutnar: Pioneer of Information Design

Ladislav Sutnar: Pioneer of Information Design
Ladislav Sutnar: Pioneer of Information Design

Ladislav Sutnar: Pioneer of Information Design
The Ildiko Butler Gallery
October 5 – December 14

Talk by Greg D'Onofrio on Wednesday, Oct 14th at 6:30pm
Closing Reception on December 8th at 6pm

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. The attributes of these ground-breaking catalogs are the precursor to what we now refer to as information design.

Sutnar’s designs were rooted in the Modernist and Constructivist ideas of the European Avant Garde. His well-defined visual systems and standardized ways of navigating information integrated form and content into dynamic visual units. Sutnar controlled the flow of information using geometric shapes, symbols, blocks of color, thick rules, logical navigation aids, indexes and typographic hierarchy.

This exhibition is a rare opportunity to see over fifty Sweet’s catalogs along with other published work by Sutnar relating to information design. The examples show how careful analysis and fundamental problem solving can revolutionize new standards of form and function. Sutnar’s pioneering work is as relevant today as it was more than 74 years ago. He was a master at making the complex simple, an arduous challenge that continues to resonate today.

Ladislav Sutnar: Pioneer of Information Design is curated by Patricia Belen & Greg D’Onofrio – graphic designers, writers and educators. Please visit for more information. Sponsored by The Visual Arts Department, Fordham University, organized by Abby Goldstein, Associate Professor with assistance from Margaret McCauley, BA 2017.