The folks over at Designers & Books got their hands on a rare, largely unsung design classic: Ladislav Sutnar's Visual Design in Action, "one of the most beautiful and thought-provoking books on modern communications and graphic design." There's only one problem, and that's that the book has been out of print for over 40 years. So D&B, following their mission, are trying to bring the book back.
The goal of the Kickstarter is to fund production of a perfect replica, including the exceptional printing and production values, of the original book, which uses varied papers to enhance color and differentiate context. Sutnar's own standards were so exacting that when in 1961 he could find no publisher willing to pay the high printing and production costs associated with his design, Sutnar paid Hastings House out of his own pocket to print it.
"Ladislav Sutnar is the most under-appreciated giant in design," says backer Stefan Sagmeister. "Putting Visual Design in Action back into print will make that right."
"Sutnar developed graphic systems that clarified vast amounts of complex information, transforming business data into digestible units," writes Steven Heller, who's been tapped to edit the book and add a new essay about Sutnar.
Enter a caption (optional)
Interesting tidbit: Sutnar was actually an industrial designer in his native Czechoslovakia, but after fleeing when the Nazis took power in 1939, he reinvented himself as a graphic designer in America.
Also: He's the guy who invented putting parentheses around area codes in phone numbers! Had he lived long enough, he'd probably have come up with the @ and # before their eventual inventors did.
"As impersonal as the area-code design might appear, the parentheses were actually among Sutnar's signature devices, one of many he used to distinguish and highlight information," Heller writes. "Sutnar developed various typographic and iconographic navigational devices that allowed users to efficiently traverse seas of data. His icons are analogous to the friendly computer symbols used today."
Thankfully, the Kickstarter's virtually a sure thing: At press time they were at $73,000 of a $79,000 goal, with a full month left to pledge. At this point the $55 Early Bird Specials are all gone, but there are still some $62 copies left.