The importance of Josef Svoboda in the history of world scenography is crucial. His work markedly influenced the development of scenography and anticipated the inception of the rapidly expanding field of lighting design. He used advanced technologies, physics and chemistry in his designs. His lighting innovations led to a shift in the perception of light on stage internationally. Many of the productions he collaborated on transcended traditional theatre and foreshadowed contemporary multimedia artistic forms.

It was above all Svoboda who promoted the term scenographer to refer to the equal and irreplaceable co-creator of a theatre production. He contributed to the cultivation of this field by supporting projects such as Prague Quadrennial (the world's greatest competition in scenography, theatre architecture and technologies, established in Prague in 1967) and OISTAT (an international organization of scenographers, theatre architects and technicians, established in Prague, 1968). Svoboda taught scenography at the School of Applied Arts in Prague and through master classes in many universities outside Czechoslovakia, such as the Pratt Institute in New York and the Banff Centre in Canada.