Identita on Czech TV’s iVysílaní streaming service 

Coming soon! Identita – the story of Czech graphic design to be broadcast starting 11 January 2024 

Bohemian Identity at this year’s Designblok!

Identity team holds discussion at the Karlovy Vary film festival

Czech TV broadcasts an in-depth report on the Identity project

Identity’s producer interviewed by Radio Prague International

Announcing the Special Award for the Most Beautiful Czech Book of the Century

State symbols, postage stamps, banknotes, logos of institutions, as well as books, road signs, the orientation system in the Prague Metro, product packaging, and film posters – they’re all part of the Czech national identity. How were these iconic designs created, and who’s behind them?

Ladislav Sutnar, Karel Teige, Alfons Mucha, Zdeněk Ziegler, Jan Solpera, Rostislav Vaněk, Clara Istlerová, Petr Babák, Robert V. Novák, Tomáš Brousil, Marek Pistora, František Štorm, Zuzana Lednická – these names are just part of the long list of personalities who have participated in or are participating in the creation of the Czech nation’s image, or who have shaped the public space and its transformation from the 20th century to the present. There hasn’t yet been a mapping of the field of graphic design in the Czech Republic; it has long been respected abroad, and the work of its leading figures would each be worthy of monographs. Through a TV series, a book, exhibitions, and a feature-length documentary, the Identity project pays tribute to the outstanding artists who have shaped Czech design.

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In addition to presenting more than a century of history in the field, the project’s creators seek to highlight graphic design’s influence on society. Graphic design is something that people have with them their entire lives, but few know the stories behind it. Graphic designers themselves see the field primarily as a public service, one which, in the words of designer Zdeněk Ziegler, “can sometimes be somewhat related to art.”

Creators

editor

Petr Smělík

Executive producer (Czech TV)

Roman Blaas

Executive producer

Matěj Pichler

series dramaturg (Czech TV)

Filip Novák

motion designer

Vít Zemčík

tv series cinematography

Petr Racek

host and guide

Aleš Najbrt

TV series director

Jakub Skalický

screenwriter

Petr Hauzírek

producer

Michal Gregorini

project creator and expert advisor

Linda Kudrnovská

project creator and expert advisor

Filip Blažek

"A show about graphic design has been needed here for a long time. I think everyone has been waiting for it, and that it’s something that can be a lot of fun. What’s more, the field has an incredible tradition. Names like Sutnar and Teige are still known all over the world," says series host Aleš Najbrt.

The series will feature legends of Czech graphic design, including Jan Solpera, Zdeněk Ziegler, Rostislav Vaněk, Clara Istlerová, Karel Haloun, Ota Karlas, Ivan Král, Milan Jaroš, Alan Záruba, František Štorm, Petr Babák, Radana Lencová, Jana Vahalíková, Marek Pistora, Robert V. Novák, Tomáš Brousil, Radek Sidun, Petra Dočekalová, Vojtěch Říha, Martin T. Pecina and many more.

The seven-part TV series, which is currently in production, will be broadcast by Czech public television in the first half of next year. Individual episodes will be on the following topics:

Episode 1

Public Space

We’re surrounded by letters. Graphic design dominates the public space, and it helps people to find their way in unfamiliar places.

Prague Metro icons
by Jiří Rathouský

Episode 2

Media

The media underwent a fundamental transformation in the 20th century. But what hasn’t changed is the fact that its visual appearance was determined by graphic designers.

Poster by Vojtěch Preissig

Episode 3

State and Propaganda

Throughout the 20th century, graphic design played a part in creating history, from the state symbols that form one of the cornerstones of our nationhood to propaganda in darker times.

Banknote from 1960

Episode 4

Education

Graphic art has shaped our personalities since childhood. Everyone remembers their first alphabet book and the handwriting they learned in elementary school.

Slabikář [alphabet book] illustrated by Oto Janeček

Episode 5

Borderlines and Gray Areas

Graphic design is an integral part of culture, and its creators often work across different disciplines.

Movie poster by Zdeňek Ziegler

Episode 6

Everyday Life

Every day from morning till night we’re surrounded by the work of graphic designers and typographers, but the average person might not even be aware of it.

Matches as a collector's item

Episode 7

Czechs in the World

Czech graphic designers have always been among the world’s best, which is why in this episode we look back at the work of Alphonse Mucha as well as Ladislav Sutnar, who became so famous in the United States that he is considered a pioneer of modern visual communication.

Postal stamp by Alfons Mucha

The purpose of the exhibition, which will start in the spring of 2024 in the regions and will culminate in the fall at the Kampa Museum in Prague, will be to explain how indidivual works were created, and how they have positively or negatively influenced our lives.

What comes to mind under the term graphic design isn’t only beautifully-produced books; it can also include warning signs as well as Nazi or Communist propaganda posters. The exhibition will provide an opportunity to discuss and understand the entire field of graphic design, which is something Czechs can rightfully be proud of.

The exhibition will present carefully selected works by Czech graphic designers from the earliest days of the field at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries,— up to the present day, a unique experience with artifacts at their real scale and the possibility of viewing original sketches, prints, and objects.

The curator of the exhibition is David Korecký, and the architectural design is by the Okolo group (Matěj Činčera, Ja Kloss, Adam Štěch).

The exhibition will take place in three versions - in the regions, at the Kampa Museum in Prague, and in cooperation with Czech Centres and embassies abroad.

The forthcoming comprehensive collective monograph Identity – the story of Czech graphic design, edited by Linda Kudrnovská, will present the key phenomena, works and personalities of the field.

Through interviews with important representatives of Czech graphic design and essays by a number of leading Czech and international experts, it will bring to light historical milestones, unpublished works, and unknown contexts. The Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, the Museum of Czech Literature, the Moravian Gallery in Brno, the Moravian Library, the Municipal Library in Prague, and the Czech National Museum have all made their collections available for the book.

The book will be designed by Adéla Svobodová, and will be in Czech and English. It will complement the entire Identity project by adding detailed explorations and expert insights, while at the same time maintain reader-friendliness and visual appeal.

A feature-length documentary by Kateřina Mikulcová will be of interest to both domestic and international audiences. It will offer stories of well-known and lesser-known brands and will also show the top-quality graphic design being made in the Czech Republic to this day. The film will be released in cinemas by the Bontonfilm production company in 2025 as the culmination of the project.

In it, Nicho Lowry, the president and chief auctioneer of Swann Galleries, a leading New York auction house with Czech roots, receives an unusual offer. He is approached by a group of colleagues from the fledgling Museum of Graphic Design in the Czech Republic to prepare an analysis of Czech graphic identity and Czech visual culture. He sets out on a journey across the Czech Republic to discover what graphic design treasures the country holds.

A small group of local figures in the graphic design community become Nicho’s insider guides on his journey of discovery. He meets important personalities of the Czech scene and is introduced to all its major works, from the history of famous brands’ logotypes to specific Czech book design, navigation systems, the unique collections of the International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno, the education of the next generation of designers, font creation, film posters, folk design and much more.

Creators

Executive producer

Pavel Vácha

Executive producer (Czech TV)

Roman Blaas

Creative producer (Czech TV)

Martina Šantavá

kameraman filmu

Jan Šuster

film host

Nicholas Lowry

film dramaturg

Bára Kopecká

film director

Kateřina Mikulcová

motion designer

Vít Zemčík

screenwriter

Petr Hauzírek

producer

Michal Gregorini

project creator and expert advisor

Linda Kudrnovská

project creator and expert advisor

Filip Blažek

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