IDCA. George Sadek [Designer]: THE ITALIAN IDEA [International Design Conference in Aspen 1981].

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International Design Conference in Aspen 1981

George Sadek  [Designer]

George Sadek  [Designer]: THE ITALIAN IDEA [International Design Conference in Aspen 1981]. Aspen, CO / New York: International Design Conference in Aspen [IDCA], Center for Design and Typography of the Cooper Union, 1981. Original Impression. 39 3/8 x 24 5/8" (100 x 62.5 cm) trim size image printed via offset lithography on heavy glossy sheet. Neatly folded in half [as issued?]. Glossy paper reveals minor handling wear, but a very good example.

This poster is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art [item 266.1981] and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. Tom Kluepfel is listed as a co-designer.

George Sadek (Czechoslovakia, 1928 –2007) founded the Center for Design and Typography at the Cooper Union School of Art in Manhattan, where he transformed graphic design education by having students work on actual projects for nonprofit institutions. Mr. Sadek founded the center in 1979 along the lines of a working design studio, with projects for clients including the Kennedy Center, the American Academy in Rome and the office of the mayor of New York City. Students were held to the highest professional standards. The school, the first of its kind, was imitated by other institutions and is still in operation.

Besides teaching advanced typography and the art of book design, Mr. Sadek founded the Herb Lubalin Study Center, whose archive is housed at Cooper Union. He often told students, “A word is worth a thousand pictures,” and the monographs and exhibits produced at the center were largely about letterforms and how type carries meaning.

Mr. Sadek was born on Oct. 12, 1928, in Usti nad Labem, Czechoslovakia. In 1938 his family fled from the Nazi invasion of the Sudetenland, eventually settling in Prague. In 1947, he went to England and enrolled in a Czech college there. He stayed in London after the Communist takeover of his homeland in 1948 and found work designing department store windows.He also met the woman who became his wife, Miroslava Sadek, another Czech refugee.

Mr. Sadek and his wife moved to New York in 1953. His first job in the United States was designing window displays for the S. Klein department store on Union Square. After being drafted and serving with the Army in Germany from 1954 to 1956, he went to Hunter College on the G.I. Bill. He earned a master of fine arts degree at Indiana University, in Bloomington, and in 1960 joined the faculty for that school, becoming director of the graduate design program and designer of the university museum’s exhibitions and publications.

In 1966 he became a professor and dean of the Cooper Union School, where he was the Frank Stanton professor of design from 1981 until 1992, when he received emeritus status. Some of his students went on to design for leading studios, including Tibor Kalman’s M&Co, and magazines like Spy. Ellen Lupton, a former student, became the design curator at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. [steven Heller, George Sadek, 78, Graphic Design Educator, Dies, the New York Times Feb. 11, 2007]

The Aspen Institute was largely the creation of Walter Paepcke, Chicago businessman, chairman of the Container Corporation of America and longtime proponent of Good Design. In 1945, Paepcke visited Herbert Bayer, who had designed and built a Bauhaus-inspired minimalist home outside the decaying former mining town of Aspen. Paepcke and Bayer envisioned a place where artists, leaders, thinkers, musicians could gather. Shortly thereafter, while passing through Aspen on a hunting expedition, Oil Industry maverick Robert O. Anderson (soon to be Founder & CEO of Atlantic Richfield) met with Bayer and shared in Paepcke's and Bayer's vision. In 1949, Paepcke organized a 20-day international celebration for the 200th birthday of German poet and philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In 1950, Paepcke founded the Aspen Institute; and later the Aspen Music Festival and eventually (with Bayer and Anderson) the International Design Conference at Aspen [IDCA]. Paepcke sought a forum “where the human spirit can flourish,” especially amid the whirlwind and chaos of modernization. He hoped that the Institute could help business leaders recapture what he called “eternal verities”: the values that guided them intellectually, ethically, and spiritually as they led their companies.