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Keepingit Suisse Swiss style Jan Tschichold Ernst Keller International typographic style Josef Muller Brockmann Neue Grafik Akzidenz Grotesk Helvetica.


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Swiss Style Swiss style originated in Russia, Germany and the Netherlands during the 1920’s before spreading to Switzerland after world war 2. The style merged elements of the New Typography, bauhaus and De Stijl. The style has its roots in the new typography, which was developed in the 1920’s and 1930’s. The designers discarded symmetry, ornament and drawn illustration for white space, plain letterforms and photographs.


Die Neue Typographie 4

Jan Tschichold 5

Jan Tschicholds 1928 book Die Neue Typographie influenced swiss designers. It was a collection of modern design. Tschichold favoured asymmetrical design where he favoured non centred design and he condemned all but sans serif fonts. He also made clear effective use of different sizes and weights of type. This book was then later followed by a series of practical manuals of the principles of modern typography. Moving then to England where he oversaw the redesign of the penguin books introducing a standardised set of typographic rules.

Ernst Keller Ernst keller a graphic designer taught the principles of the Bauhaus and Jan Tschichold’s Modern Typography at the Zurich school of design.





From 1918 Keller taught a professional course in graphic design and typography at the kunstgewerbeschule Zurich. It was here that he mentored Armin Hofmann, Emil Ruder, and Joseph Muller-Brockmann all of whom played a significant part in the re design of the swiss style.

International Typographic Style

Zurich school of design as well as Basel school of design were at the centre of the graphic design movement that evolved in Switzerland in the 1950’s.

The style emphasises clarity of information, objective photography in place of illustration and assymetrical arrangement on grid systems. Text is flush left and and ragged right and sans serif typography is used such as Akzidenz Grotesk. The swiss modernists were also influenced by the constructivist use of geometry in particular adopting the square and circle.

New Typography

1 Emil Ruder

Emil Ruder was a swiss typographer and graphic designer who helped to found the Basel school of design with Armin Hoffman. Ruder met Hoffman in 1948 and they began their teaching achieving an international reputation by the 1950s with the international typograhic style.




Armin Hoffmann

A swiss graphic designer who followed Emil Ruder as head of the graphic design department at basel school of art. He was also at the centre of the redevelopement of the swiss style in the 1950’s.




5 Max Bill

Max Bill was a Swiss architect, artist, painter, typeface designer, and graphic designer. Bill played a key part in the creation of the allianz group set up in 1937. In 1944, he became a professor at the school of arts in Zurich. Later becoming the cofounder of a design school in Ulm Germany.





Josef Müller Brockmann


Josef Müller Brockmann was a Swiss graphic designer and teacher. He was descirbed as a leading practitioner and theorist of the Swiss Style by the 1950’s.



“One must learn how to use the grid. It is an art that requires practice” Josef Müller Brockmann 17


Josef Müller Brockmann Joseph Muller Brockmann was an important figure in what became the interntational typographic style in the 1950’s. He studied architecture, design and history of art at the university of Zurich and at the cities Kunstgewerbeschule. By the 1950’s he was established as the leading practitioner and theorist of the swiss style. Brockmann is recognised for his simple designs and his clean use of typography, shapes and colours. 19


Neue Neue

Grafik Grafik 1968

In 1958 Brockmann founded the Zurich based magazine neue grafik with Richard Paul Lohse, Hans Neuburg and Carlo Vivarelli. The aim of the magazine was to demonstrate that the practice of New Graphic Design was fundamentally Swiss. Secondly that it was definitely Constructive and third that it was a logical development from Modernism. The magazine was written in German, English and French the three major languages of Switzerland.



Akzidenz Grotesk. Neue Grafik Magazine used Akzidenz Grotesk as its typeface because of its clarity and precision. The typeface was originally released by the Berthold Type Foundry in 1896. It was the first sans serif to be widely used and influenced many other grotesque typefaces after 1950. Neue Haas Grotesk was then designed to replace Akzidenz Grotesk.

abcdef ghijklm opqrst opqrst 23

Helvetica. In 1957 Neue Haas Grotesk was designed to replace Akzidenz Grotesk as the swiss style typeface. The aim of the new design was to create a neutral typeface that had good clarity and could be used on a range of signage. In 1960 the typeface was renamed to Helvetica which is the Latin name for Swiss. Helvetica is among the most widely used sans serif fonts.


& tu brute?  

book showing connections in typographical history