The portfolios that shaped graphic design

The Design and Paper series provided an idea forum for a transitioning industry

Steven Heller
September 19, 2011 5:01AM (UTC)

Back in the pre-digital days, when paper companies could afford to produce ambitious promotions (the kind that drove environmentalists crazy, but made designers ecstatic), some of the promotions were more than sales tools. They were and have become seminal documents of design practice -- especially modernist pursuit. Among the most progressive were Marquardt's Design and Paper series, which began as portfolios showcasing a variety of artists. Yet in some instances the showcase was an original booklet with unique content. There were those designed by Saul Steinberg, Raymond Loewy, E. McKnight Kauffer, Erik Nitsche and others. But two that truly stand out are by Ladislav Sutnar, who used the opportunity to proffer his favorite visual themes.

Number 13 was devoted to "Controlled Visual Flow" and Number 19 was about "Shape, Line and Color," each a systematic guide to Sutnar's design thinking. Since the booklets represented Marquardt papers, the design and printing were excellent. (In 2003 the Sutnar family reprinted the booklets for The Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.)


The Design and Paper series was distributed "principally to printers, art directors, trade press, and important executives. In addition, many copies go to non-customers, such as instructors of journalism and the graphic arts, who use copies as noteworthy specimens for classroom discussion." They set a standard of serious "discourse" for a profession that was slowly emerging from "commercial art" to "graphic design."

The Sutnar series are mini-textbooks; indeed the material came directly from books Sutnar had done or was doing on catalog and display design. Below are some excerpts (note: three separate spreads from both booklets are reproduced, each a unit, with No. 13 top and No. 19 below.)

Design and Paper

Design and Paper

Design and Paper

Design and Paper

Copyright F+W Media Inc. 2011.

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Steven Heller

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